Did a Sex-Tape Lead to Murder?

There was sex, lies, and a reported videotape, but no body. Nevertheless, forty-nine-year-old Brian Eleron Hancock stood trial for first-degree murder of his friend Peter Bentz. As Hancock’s trial began on January 6, 2020, in the San Diego courtroom of Judge Joan Weber, the paramount question was raised: Did Brian Hancock stab Peter Bentz to death after believing Bentz posted a sex-tape of the married Hancock and his secret girlfriend? The prosecution contended he did, and then in a panicked cover-up used Bentz’s credit cards to purchase cleaning products and other items, including a shovel, dolly, saw, mattock, and rug before burying Bentz in the desert. The sixty-eight-year old Bentz last communicated with Hancock on the afternoon of November 21, 2017, when Hancock asked if he could “swing by.” Bentz was never seen or heard from again. 

The case went to trial without Peter’s body. But can you prove murder without that body? And what happens to the case when the body of Peter Bentz is suddenly discovered during the trial? Should the jury be told this stunning news or not? Find out what the judge decided! But let’s start at the beginning.

Although Brian Hancock was married and the father of two young daughters, he was living a secret, double life, not only having an affair with another woman but also having sexual liaisons with Bentz. The story it seemed could not get any more complicated or salacious, but then Brian Hancock took the witness stand. Supremely confident, even arrogant at times, he adamantly denied ever harming Peter Bentz, and then told an extraordinary tale. Would the jury believe his smooth-talking account? Or would they believe a much darker version?

Hancock’s ex-wife, along with another witness, told a vastly different story. Granted immunity from prosecution, had they turned to save themselves as the defense propounded, or were they speaking the gospel truth? Would crime scene evidence, along with cell phone tracking and credit card purchases be Hancock’s undoing? Or was there a simple explanation for it all as the defense offered? 

Peter Bentz – An Upbeat Man Who Kept A Regimented Routine

Peter Bentz served in the Army and was an upbeat, robust, and athletic man, who loved to play tennis and work out at the gym said his younger brother who was the first witness to take the stand. He loved photography and was especially proud of some prized photographs he had taken while on African safari. He always wore a gold chain that held a real gold nugget, which his father had gifted to him. A ring with a black stone always adorned his hand as well.

Described as a “smiley” person by one friend, he was also a man of regimented routine, with another friend pronouncing him OCD (which stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Timing everything perfectly, he went to his gym, 24-Hour Fitness, on prescribed days and times, not willing to deviate for anything. He kept his rent receipts in perfect order, compiling a stack dating all the way back to 1999. He was known to answer text messages quickly and to contact his family and friends regularly.

Peter Bentz was not a person to disappear without a word. So, when he failed to attend the annual Thanksgiving gathering at his brother’s home on November 23, 2017, a tradition spanning over two decades, his family grew worried. Then when he didn’t contact his close friend for their mutual birthday celebration at Denny’s, another solid tradition of twenty years, everyone knew something was seriously wrong. His family reported him missing and then devoted intense efforts to finding him. What had happened to their dependable and beloved Peter?

sex-tape murder trial

An Afternoon of Sex, But Was There Ever Really a Sex-Tape?

Brian Hancock testified he met Peter Bentz in August or September of 2017, when Hancock repaired a ceiling fan at Bentz’s apartment. Hancock was a trained electrician but had been laid off his job and was working whatever side-jobs he could find. He told police though he met Bentz on-line for sex. However, their meeting came to be, Hancock and Bentz grew close. Hancock would spend time at Bentz’s apartment, both smoking marijuana, and eventually doing more serious drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin. At one time Bentz was a recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, but according to his brother, he had been sober for a record-breaking 25 years. Had he relapsed unbeknownst to all? He had, if Hancock was to be believed.

Bentz was an active on-line dater, seeking out women as well as men. He told his brother he was a “swinger.” Hancock too was bisexual, and he testified a sexual relationship developed with Bentz, with Bentz even videotaping or livestreaming their sessions on some occasions. The sex-tape was always with the consent of Hancock, although his face was not to be shown. At times, Bentz would even give him money.

Peter Bentz was not the only person Hancock was seeing though, as he was engaged in an affair with Rosa Hammond too. As she had a boyfriend, Hancock and Hammond kept their relationship secret from their respective partners. This was not Hancock’s first affair with Rosa Hammond, having been involved with her almost ten years prior when his wife, Angelina, was pregnant with their first child. The affair contributed to the demise of his marriage in 2010. However, Angelina, apparently being forgiving, was willing to give the relationship another try and remarried Hancock in 2011. They had another daughter and Hancock appeared to be a family man. It was not to last. In 2017, Hancock found Rosa Hammond on Facebook and their bygone affair resumed. Soon enough, their sexual escapades involved Bentz.

On November 17, 2017, Hancock took Hammond to Bentz’s apartment in Ocean Beach for an afternoon of sex. According to Hammond, they all did methamphetamine together as well. The sexual coupling began first with Hancock and Bentz engaging in sex together on the living room couch as Hammond watched. Afterwards, she had sex with Hancock while Bentz watched. Was Bentz also secretly videotaping them? Neither had knowledge of this nor had offered their agreement to this sex-tape.

The next day, November 18, 2017, Hammond received a surprising message through Facebook messenger with an attached video link. Although, she was never able to access the video, she was told it was a sex-tape. Hammond sent the link to Hancock and the two began to text about it, discussing it for days, from November 18th until the 21st. Finally, Hancock told her he was going to talk to Bentz about the sex-tape. He soon informed her, “I took care of it.”

To continue reading about what happened in this heartbreaking and riveting trial, and whether the jury was told of the discovery of Peter Bentz’ body, please go to Aleida K. Wahn’s book, Murder Trials We Can’t Forget And Other True Cases. Aleida was there inside the courtroom for every minute, and now shares the extraordinary details of what really happened in these gripping and unforgettable trials. Order your copy today at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B2YLWD1X


Aleida K. Wahn's book: MURDER TRIALS WE CAN'T FORGET And Other True Cases

About Aleida K. Wahn, Esq.

I am an attorney, award-winning true crime writer, and legal analyst of criminal cases. I cover criminal trials and write stories and books about compelling, gripping, and unforgettable cases that impact our world. I take you into the courtroom in high-profile murder trials, rape cases, crimes of passion, cases involving mental illness, deviant behavior, and more. I have a deep passion for true crime, criminal law, and all aspects of the criminal justice system. I have appeared as an expert on true crime shows, including “48 Hours,” “Snapped,” and “The Dead Files,” and provided legal analysis on high-profile criminal trials on Court TV, the Law & Crime Trial Network, Fox 5 News, ABC 10 News, and KUSI News. I also create and host shows with the Del Mar Television Producers Group, addressing criminal justice and social issues in recent criminal trials.

I provided my insight and legal analysis on Court TV and the Law & Crime Trial Network of the high-profile trial of former NFL star Kellen Winslow Jr. It was a trial that captured the nation as the heralded ex-football star with fame, fortune, and a famous name stood accused of multiple rapes and other sex crimes involving five women. As the trial delved into shocking facts, complicated legal issues, and unexpected twists and turns, I was there for every minute. After the trial, I wrote a book on the case, going behind the headlines to share the extraordinary details of what happened inside the courtroom. Judging Winslow Jr.: From NFL Star to Serial Rapist? Inside the Shocking Rape Trial of Kellen Boswell Winslow II is now available on Amazon.

I am passionate about telling true crime stories, as these penetrating stories have the power to move us all, while highlighting societal issues which need to be addressed. I have personally seen the human devastation which is present in each trial and believe there is a lesson to be learned in every single case. It is through awareness and examining critical issues society can effect change and even make new laws. To learn more, please visit: https://www.aleidalaw.com.

Read about the gripping and unforgettable trials that I have covered in my latest books: