clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Man convicted in killing of 7-year-old now faces rape charge

FILE - Frank Benavidez sits at the defense table in the courtroom of Judge Robin Reese.
FILE - Frank Benavidez sits at the defense table in the courtroom of Judge Robin Reese.
Paul Fraughton, Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY — One of three men sentenced to prison for killing a 7-year-old girl hit by a stray bullet during a gang-related drive-by shooting 10 years ago has now been charged in a gang-related kidnapping and rape.

Frank P. Benavidez, 31, who is currently an inmate at the Utah State Prison in Gunnison, was charged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery, all first-degree felonies.

In July 2006, a woman walking near 300 S. Cheyenne Street in Salt Lake City was kidnapped at gunpoint by two men in a car, taken to a field and raped by both men, according to charging documents, allegedly over her affiliation with rival gang members.

The woman was then driven to another location and kicked out of the car. The woman, who recognized one of her attackers as a gang member, went "to the hospital where a rape kit was conducted and DNA was collected. The kit was sent to the Utah State Lab for testing," the charges state.

On June 5, 2018, a DNA database search matched with Benavidez.

Benavidez is already serving time for a high-profile murder that created an outcry from city and community leaders to do something about Salt Lake City's gang problem.

On July 6, 2008, 7-year-old Maria Del Carmen Menchaca was playing in the front yard of her house on the corner of 800 West and Fremont Avenue when a vehicle with three gang members drove by and fired several rounds intended for a rival gang member that lived at the residence.

Instead, a stray bullet struck and killed Maria.

Gabriel Alejandro Alvarez fired the fatal shot that killed the young girl. Benavidez was the driver. Mae Goodman Johnson, then 16, handed the gun to Alvarez in the car.

Alvarez was convicted of murder and Benavidez of accessory to murder. Both were sentenced to 16 years to life in prison. Johnson pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison.