A 38-year-old ex-security guard named Sheldon Russell Bentley was convicted Wednesday of a crime he committed in 2016 when he stomped a man to death behind a store he was working at, blaming his actions on “involuntary celibacy.”
He’s been sentenced to four years in prison, but will only serve two.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bentley Blamed His Crime on The Fact That he Was “Involuntarily Celibate”
There is an entire community of involuntary celibate people online who call themselves “incels.” They’re frustrated by their inability to have sexual relationships and they’re angry at both men and women, women for rejecting them and men for being sexually active when they’re not.
The team “Incel” was first used in Canada after a man by the name of Alec Minassian ran over dozens of people with his van. 10 people died. He left this message on his Facebook page right before the attack:
There have been other mass murders motivated by the same thinking. Bentley was entangled in this movement and he told the judge that his sexual frustration motivated his violent behavior.
“The fact that he had a frustrated state of mind in no way justifies attacking a vulnerable individual,” Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Paul Belzil said.
2. According to Bentley’s Lawyer, he Was “Physically, Verbally and Emotionally Abused” as a Child And Did Not Feel Safe in The World
Bentley’s defense lawyer, Amanda Hart-Dowhun, shared that Bentley was abused in every way possible throughout his childhood, this left him feeling inferior and insecure. He was bullied in school and as he grew up, felt the need to arm himself with weapons because he was used to being mistreated.
At the time of the attack, Bentley was living in Edmonton, Canada in low income housing provided by the YMCA. He was working full-time as a security guard where he was “sometimes attacked and had little support or resources,” the Edmonton Journal reported.
“There was a lot of stress there,” his lawyer said. According to her, Bentley carried nunchucks and a pellet gun in his backpack to protect himself from threats. Bentley’s mother confirmed his troubled past in an interview held outside the courthouse on Wednesday. “We come from a broken home. I just hope he can learn how to control his anger,” she said.
3. The Victim, Donald Doucette, Was Laying Unconscious Behind The Store Bentley Worked at When Bentley Stomped Him to Death
Donald Doucette, 51, was laying unconscious behind Lucky 97 supermarket on July 31, 2016, when Bentley stole a $20 from his hand and then stomped him to death. Prosecutor Kristen Logan argued that Bentley’s combat boots put “two large tears” in the soft tissue of the man’s abdomen, causing “massive internal bleeding,” that lead to his death.
Elizabeth Brooks-Lim, Chief medical examiner of Alberta, described to the jury how much pain the victim had to have been in when Bentley tried lifting the man to his feet after the attack. It was then that the man bled out. He was dead in just minutes.
Bentley told the court that the man was one of many homeless people who harass him at work. “I am sickened at who I was,” he said. “I don’t like what I’ve become. I am very sorry for what I have taken from you,” Bentley said to the victim’s family.
4. In His Closing Apology, Bentley Mentioned That Captain America Would Have Been Ashamed of His Crime
After apologizing to the victim’s family, Bentley promised he would “use Captain America’s values to govern his actions going forward.” He expressed how the character would be so “ashamed” of the crime he committed.
Bentley was sentenced to four years in prison, but will only serve a year and eight months because of eight months of pretrial custody that has already been served. He is also banned from carrying any weapons for ten years.
Bentley told his probation officer that he has a “militaristic personality,” then told the court that he has aspirations of joining the military. He asked the judge to grant him his “freedom,” but instead was sentenced to prison.
“I would like for this court to understand I am no threat to the public,” Bentley said. Some agree, including his landlord who wrote a letter to the court saying that “Bentley would be welcome to return.”
5. Bentley’s Coworkers Said he Was Armed With Many Weapons, Including a Black Whip That he Kept in His Locker at Work
Muhammad Sharma, a security guard who worked with Bentley, testified in court saying that Bentley kept a “black whip” in his locker and would often tell everyone that he kept bear spray and a knife on him.
Sharma was a witness to the crime. He claimed he asked Bentley why he was robbing the man behind the store. Bentley replied, “He doesn’t need it.” Sharma initially said he did not see the beating, but retracted that in court, saying that he was just in a state of shock.
Sharma said that every time someone would call Bentley “Pee-wee” at work, he would tell Bentley to think of himself as Captain America to keep him “happy.”
Felix Amato, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Salem State University, studied Bentley’s case. “Involuntary celibacy is not an excuse for violence because we, in terms of a healthy society, need to be able to feel safe—every individual is responsible for his or her own actions,” Amato told VICE. “You may be able to say this is why he or she did this nasty or horrific thing, but that doesn’t make it okay or so there shouldn’t be repercussions.”