Adi Benita found guilty of killing her pregnant friend

TA judges unconvinced of insanity claims, convict 25-year-old Benita of premeditated murder of Talia Abramowitz in 2008.

Having failed to convince the judges that she was suffering from a psychotic episode, 25-year-old Adi Benita was convicted on Thursday for the murder of her friend Talia Abramowitz.
The three-judge panel of the Tel Aviv District Court found Benita guilty of stabbing a pregnant Abramowitz to death in the victim’s Bnei Brak apartment, in December 2008, following an argument over Abramowitz’s relations with a mutual friend.
The facts of the crime not being in dispute, the main question discussed in the trial was whether Benita was responsible for her acts or whether she had suffered a psychotic episode rendering her unaware and incapable of controlling her actions.
Both the state prosecution and the defense team called in expert witnesses to testify about Benita’s mental state at the time of the murder, with the defense claiming that Benita suffered from a rare form of psychosis called Persecutory Delusional Disorder.
In his testimony before the court, Dr. Gal Shuval said, “It is possible to determine that Adi [Benita] currently suffers from an active paranoid psychosis, which expresses itself in a flooding of paranoid delusions regarding what she believes to be a conspiracy targeted against her by those surrounding her, including, her sister, her friends, the judge and her lawyer.”
In their ruling, Justices Uri Shoham, Miryam Sokolov and Yehudit Sheva wrote that both sides’ experts agreed that Benita had long been suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, but disagreed on whether she suffered from psychosis accompanied by auditory hallucinations and uncontradictable beliefs.
In the end, the judges were convinced by the prosecution witnesses and determined that Benita was not suffering from a psychotic episode at the time of the murder and, on the contrary, that she had displayed behavior that indicated calculation and levelheadedness.
The judges were particularly impressed by Benita’s ability, after the murder, to recall the phone numbers of the police, her sister and her psychiatrist, all of whom she called upon exiting Abramowitz’s apartment.
Regarding the motive, the judges determined that Benita had pointed to a clear motive, during her investigation and talks with psychiatrists, telling them she went to Abramowitz’s apartment in order to confront her over her suspicions that Abramowitz and their mutual friend, Yaniv Abergil, had been talking about her behind Benita’s back.
“According to the defendant, the deceased failed to clear up the issue and didn’t show empathy and understanding to the defendant’s suffering. She even remained composed and uncaring after hearing that the defendant planned to commit herself in the Shalvata Mental Health Center. The defendant felt rejected and humiliated and that can be seen as a reasonable motive, on her part, to commit murder,” wrote the judges in their ruling.
The judges also pointed to behavior exhibited by Benita, leading them to suspect that she was interested in being found insane in order to ease her punishment.
“Even if her actions can’t be defined as sophisticated, there is no doubt that [Benita] took efforts to steer matters in a way that appeared to her more lenient, even if it meant forced commitment in a psychiatric hospital.
“Similar things can be said about most of her suicide attempts, which even according to the defendant, were not aimed at ending her life, but rather of gaining ‘secondary benefits,’ mainly that the attempts will find expression in her psychiatric evaluation,” wrote the judges.
But in the end, Benita’s claims to insanity neither let her off the trial nor mitigated her charges, and the judges convicted her of premeditated murder. The judges determined that Benita’s suffering of Borderline Personality Disorder as a possible sentence mitigating factor would only be raised at the pre-sentencing stage of the trial.