Mom might face retrial after conviction tossed in tussle with daughter 

click to enlarge Shawnie Benedetti got off clean last year after the conviction was overturned when an appeals court ruled that the trial judge unfairly refused to instruct the jury on a “mistake of fact” claim by the defense. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Shawnie Benedetti got off clean last year after the conviction was overturned when an appeals court ruled that the trial judge unfairly refused to instruct the jury on a “mistake of fact” claim by the defense.

They have not washed their hands of this child abuse case.

Prosecutors are considering whether to retry a San Mateo woman accused of tying up her 17-year-old daughter and force-feeding her dish soap three years ago during an argument over an unpaid cellphone bill.

In February 2010, a jury found 46-year-old Shawnie Benedetti guilty of inflicting corporal injury on a child and other charges stemming from the May 28, 2009, incident.

However, Benedetti got off clean last year after the conviction was overturned when an appeals court ruled that the trial judge unfairly refused to instruct the jury on a “mistake of fact” claim by the defense. The claim was that Benedetti had mistakenly thought her daughter was suicidal when she restrained her.

Prosecutors said Tuesday they are considering retrying the case because Benedetti “went too far” that day.

“We’re in the process of making contact with the victim and finding out whether or not she can go through [a jury trial] again,” San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Another trial would be a waste of taxpayer money, defense attorney Jonathan McDougall said, because mother and daughter have since repaired their relationship and moved on.

Benedetti testified that her daughter greatly exaggerated the events of that night and made multiple threats that she would kill herself. Benedetti said she did not call police because her daughter was on juvenile probation at the time.

“Ms. Benedetti has always been of the firm belief that she did nothing wrong, that she wanted to help her daughter,” McDougall said.

The incident in question began after the daughter held a house party. After her friends left, court documents say, an argument broke out over Benedetti’s purported failure to pay her daughter’s cellphone bill.

During the trial, the daughter testified that she was knocked down after exchanging punches with her mother. Benedetti then allegedly pinned her daughter to the ground and had a family friend help tie her up.

For more than an hour, the daughter said, Benedetti repeatedly punched her and put a pillow over her face to muffle her screams.

After her arrest, court documents say, Benedetti was videotaped telling police she put “some soap and water” in her daughter’s mouth “because she was saying mean things” and acting “crazy.”

Two more family friends who were called by Benedetti to help with her daughter were “both surprised and somewhat shocked” to see the teen tied up.

Prosecutors said the daughter went to police with “numerous marks on her body,” including signs of strangulation, bruises and mouth trauma.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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