BATAVIA, NY -- Joseph Benaquist's dying words, according to Scott Doll's attorney, were, "The boy. The boy."
Doll is accused of murdering Benaquist -- beating him to death and leaving his body in a pool of blood in his own driveway in Pembroke on Feb. 16, 2009.
But Paul Cambria, Doll's attorney, said this morning in opening arguments of Doll's murder trial that it wasn't Doll who killed Benaquist.
But if not Doll, then, who?
Cambria said it crossed the mind of Scott Doll within minutes of hearing Benaquist utter, "The Boy. The Boy" just before he died in Doll's arms, that it was his own son, Joshua Doll.
Joshua Doll was the one who was supposed to meet Benaquist earlier that night and drive with him to the car auction in Adesa, and Joshua Doll who regularly dealt with Benaquist on auto transactions.
Scott Doll only went to Benaquist's home after the former corrections officer failed to show for an appointment at the Adesa auction. He arrived while his longtime business partner and friend was struggling for his life, Cambria said.
There was blood everywhere -- on the ground and splattered and smeared on nearby cars, and Doll was shocked at what he found and what he heard, Cambria said.
"Mr. Benaquist weighed 220 pounds," Cambria said. "The evidence will show he struggled and fought for his life. Yet, there's not one injury on my client, because he did not have a fight with Mr. Benaquist."
Equally adamant on the other side that Scott Doll is the murderer is District Attorney Lawrence Friedman.
"When this trial is over," Friedman said, "when you connect the dots you will find beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant is responsible for the murder of Joseph Benaquist and is guilty as charged of murder in the second degree."
Friedman opened his statement by outlining the facts of the case -- that Benaquist was found dead in a pool of his own blood, the victim of multiple blows to the head, outside his Pembroke home on a cold Monday night. That Doll was found returning to the scene with his clothes and face covered in the victim's blood, and that the van Doll was driving had blood on the outside and the interior.
Friedman also said that during the course of the trial he will present evidence related to auto transactions that went wrong and that Doll was having increasing financial trouble.
While the prosecution is not required to provide proof of a motive for the murder of Benaquist, Friedman said the evidence will show that Doll and Benaquist were in conflict over some auto deals.
Doll and Benaquist cooperated in a used car business that was licensed to Doll. Benaquist also apparently used Doll's registration at the Adesa auto auction house to purchase vehicles for his own use.
Besides suggesting that Josh Doll may have killed Benaquist, Cambria also noted that despite extensive efforts by local law enforcement to find a murder weapon, none was ever located.
He suggested that if juror's apply common sense, they will conclude that Doll had no opportunity to dispose of the murder weapon.
He also said that any statements Doll made where intended to just buy him time, while he tried to figure out where his son was and whether he was involved. Doll's repeated requests to consult with an attorney were "ignored," according to Cambria, and also intended to buy time to find out if his son was involved.
He called the Sheriff's Office arrest of Doll a "rush to judgment."
The first witness called was James Waff, a second assistant chief in the Pembroke Fire Department. Waff first called emergency dispatch after spotting a suspicious person at the gas station on the corner of Main Road and Lake Road in Pembroke. Waff was returning from the Fire Hall at the time.
He described seeing Doll in a winter camouflage jumpsuit with his face covered with a firefighter's hood -- Doll was also a volunteer firefighter -- and then going to a friend's house nearby to see if he had also seen the person at the gas station.
When they returned, Doll was walking on Lake Road and they observed him until deputies arrived to question him.
The Batavian will have additional coverage of today's proceedings late in the afternoon.