A 33-year-old central Minnesota man has been found guilty of assault and stalking motivated by racial bias for his months-long campaign of threats and property damage that terrorized a nearby family.
Stearns County officials reported Monday night that a jury convicted Benton Beyer of Richmond, Minn., of stalking, assault, theft, criminal property damage and violating restraining orders. Court records show Beyer was convicted on seven of the 11 counts he faced.
The jury further found that the stalking and assault were motivated by racial bias against the victims.
Beyer remains jailed and is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 18.
The criminal complaint against Beyer accused him of spying on a family near a group home where his girlfriend worked, later damaging their cars and eventually crashing a stolen SUV into their home early one morning in July 2021.
The complaint stated Beyer told his girlfriend that he believed she had cheated on him with Black men. The charges said his suspicion fell on a biracial family living near the group home, as well as other unrelated people, solely because of their race.
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A series of escalating incidents over several months culminated in the stolen SUV striking the family's Cold Spring home. A large piece of granite had been left on the accelerator; Beyer was arrested soon after.
“Investigation revealed that the defendant targeted this household for the assault because the home contained individuals who were Black or biracial,” the complaint stated.
At that time, Andrea and Phillipe Robinson told MPR News that they and their children were home when the SUV crashed into it. They said they were not physically injured, but said they were left feeling shocked and violated.
“We were really concerned for our safety, and kind of felt something [more] was going to happen,” Phillipe Robinson said in July 2021, referring to earlier incidents over the previous few months. “But we didn't think it would be to this point.”
They had called on prosecutors to charge Beyer with racially motivated crimes.
“If there is no consequence, it will continue,” Andrea Robinson told MPR News at the time. “We just want to be part of the community and live.”