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Defense seeks separate trials for man accused of spreading HIV

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – A man sits behind bars accused of intentionally spreading HIV for more than a decade, but for the multiple women who claim to be Isiah Benford’s victims, seeking justice won’t be easy.

“The longer time period something is alleged to have happened and the more people involved then obviously the more complex it gets, because there’s more moving parts to all of it,” said Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt.

WTHI-TV learned Benford’s attorney is asking for separate trials, part of a motion recently filed by the defense.

“They’re arguing that it’s not part of a common scheme or plan, which therefore if that was the case, then under the statute it’s pretty much ok to try them all together,” explained Modesitt.

Benford faces 27-criminal counts ranging from aggravated battery to failure to warn his partners of his status, which is called “duty to warn.” The charges are based on accusations from seven different women who claim Benford gave them HIV; one who has developed AIDS.

“They could be grouped by the type of offense and the types of charges, they could be grouped by victims and differences in time,” said Modesitt, who also explained there wouldn’t necessarily be a separate trial for each alleged victim.

However, the prosecution plans to argue against the motion.

“Having several trials and taking up several different dates, court times and things like that can be time-consuming and costly, so on the prosecution side normally we would want to try together,” said Modesitt.

The defense and the prosecution will state their positions in a hearing on Feb. 23.

Benford’s trial date is still set for the end of May.