Linda Bennitt’s family: ‘Give Linda a voice’

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With the guilty plea last Thursday by Mark Steve Erler in the murder case of Switzerland County native Linda Bennitt, after 25 years a chapter of the painful saga is closing her Linda’s family – but there is still work to be done.

When Mark Erler appears for his sentencing on Friday, May 29th, Lake County Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell will allow testimony and evidence that could impact the severity of the sentence that Mark Erler receives.

The family will be allowed to present their point of view that day to the court, and are asking members of the Switzerland County community and others who knew Linda to help them, “Give Linda a voice” during the hearing.

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Here is a letter written by the family that calls the community to action:

“We all now have the opportunity to give Linda a voice.

“On May 29th, there will be a sentencing hearing. This hearing is to last all day and evidence will be presented regarding Mark Erler, but more importantly, we will be able to give Linda a voice that day. Judge Boswell will hear testimony all day, and at the end of the day will give her ruling.

“She will be sentencing Mark Erler to between 30- and 60-years in prison. It is very important that we do everything possible to get the maximum sentence imposed because under Indiana law he may be serving “Two for One”, which means that a 60-year sentence is only truly a 30-year sentence.

“This is where we need your help.

“We need letters!

“We must get across to Judge Boswell the type of person that Linda was and the amazing impact she made in her short 22 years. We need for Judge Boswell to understand what Mark Erler stole from all of us.

“There is no right or wrong way to write these letters. Please just write them from the heart. Write about what Linda meant to you. If you didn’t know Linda personally, but she has still impacted you through her friends and family then please write about those experiences as well.

“This is our final opportunity to stand up for Linda and help her to plead her case to Judge Boswell through all of us. The letters need to be written to Judge Boswell, but mailed directly to the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney.

“The address is as follows: Angela Brown, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Lake County Government Center, 2293 North Main Street, Crown Point, Indiana, 46307.

“In addition, anyone who would like to represent Linda in person is welcome to attend the sentencing hearing. It will be held on May 29th at 8:45 am. It will be held at the above address, 2293 North Main Street, Crown Point. The sentencing will be held on the second floor in the court room of Judge Boswell.

“On behalf of Linda, thank you in advance for all of the letters that are going to be written. Thank you to anyone who is able to make the trip to Crown Point on May 29th. This is our last opportunity to speak out on Linda’s behalf. We want to make sure that Judge Boswell knows how deep our loss is – even 25 years later.”