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KEOSAUQUA – Shawn Bentler’s ex-girlfriend said Wednesday that spoke about his parents’ deaths as an end to his financial problems.

Lexi Leslie tried to re-establish a relationship with Bentler in October 2006. She previously dated him and the couple has a daughter. Bentler owed her child support and Leslie pushed him to get a job.

“I told him he needed to find a job,” Leslie said. “He said that when his parents were dead he wouldn’t have to worry about money anymore.”

The defense objected repeatedly to the prosecution’s questions. Defense Attorney D.J. Arbabha said Leslie’s responses were hearsay. His explanations appeared to frustrate Judge Michael Mullins at one point.

“Mr. Arbabha, you tell me what kind of objection you want to make. I’m not going to tell you what you have to say,” Mullins said.

Arbabha said Leslie’s statements are hearsay.

“It would be very prejudicial. It’s not relevant to this case,” Arbabha said.

Mullins overruled the objection.

Leslie said she initiated the conversation by telling Shawn “I’ll murder your ass.” She said it was a joke, not a declaration of intent. Arbabha asked if the same was true of his comments about his family during the defense cross examination.

“Did you believe that was a scary statement?” Arbabha asked.

“No,” Leslie said.

The prosecution’s redirection generated another flashpoint.

“Did you ever know Shawn Bentler to steal from his parents?” Brown asked.

Arbabha immediately objected. He said there is no way to corroborate Leslie’s statements and that a claim of theft involves “prior bad acts,” a category generally excluded from trials.

Brown responded that the question goes to Leslie’s deposition in which she said interactions between Bentler and his family were normal. He said it is reasonable to ask if theft is normal interaction. Mullins overruled the objection.

Leslie said she was with Bentler on two occasions. He stole money from the cash register at the family’s lumber yard on one and took gas from the business on a second occasion.

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