Man accused of kidnapping teenager dies while awaiting trial

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A man awaiting trial for the kidnapping of a 16-year-old West Michigan girl who was later murdered has died from medical complications.

Gerald Bennett, 63, of Detroit, was admitted Nov. 7 to a hospital for cancer treatment, U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said Tuesday. Bennett was put on life support after his health worsened. He died on Monday.

Bennett was declared competent last April to stand trial for the kidnapping of Mujey Dumbuya.

In 2017, Dumbuya had accused Quinn James , a maintenance worker at her school, of sexually assaulting her when she was 15 years old. She was scheduled to testify at her trial in April 2018.

But Dumbaya was abducted from a bus stop in January 2018 and her partially clothed body was later found in the woods in Kalamazoo, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of her home in Grand Rapids. She had been strangled.

Totten said James hired Bennett to help him kidnap and kill Dumbuya, and the two men were charged with murder in state court. James was convicted and sentenced in April 2019 to life in prison. But Bennett was declared incompetent to stand trial and the charges against him were dismissed in March 2022.

The case was then referred to the FBI and federal prosecutors, and a federal grand jury indicted Bennett in August 2022. A forensic psychologist concluded that Bennett had feigned incompetence and a The judge ruled that he was competent to stand trial. Jury selection was scheduled to begin in February 2024.

Federal authorities charged Bennett with conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire resulting in death; kidnapping resulting in death; kidnapping of a minor victim; and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. That case has now been dismissed, Totten said.

“The allegations in this case were appalling and I deeply regret that we never presented the evidence against Mr. Bennett in open court,” he said. “At best, our efforts can only ensure a measure of justice. We can't bring Mujey back. But the role of a conviction in telling the truth is important.”

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