Tracy Benet

A troubled life

For more than two decades, Tracy Benet butted heads with the Josephine County criminal justice system.

On Thursday, that system caught up with her in a Josephine County Jail courtroom, where she was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for attacking an acquaintance with a hammer and knife.

By her own account, Benet's life has been a trial: a dozen foster home placements, domestic abuse and drugs and alcohol, plus mental health issues.

"What kills most people doesn't kill me," she told Josephine County Circuit Judge Thomas Hull, after describing how she was so blasted one time she didn't remember a thing before waking up in jail. "I'm screwed up. I have a mental health issue, but I'm not crazy."

On her way to the courtroom, Benet's angry voice echoed down a jail hallway. On her way out, she told officers to burn in hell. In the courtroom, four corrections officers stood by. She was shackled hand and foot.

Benet, 52, had been in custody for more than a year, following her arrest in February 2016 at a home near Murphy, where the assault took place.

At trial last month, she claimed that Lori Robinson, 60, came at her with a knife. Robinson suffered a fractured foot and slight wound to the side in the attack. A jury convicted Benet on a dozen charges, including attempted murder, which carries a mandatory minimum of 90 months in prison.

Her attorney, Deborah Cumming, said Benet suffered from bipolar disorder and that she was not receiving adequate treatment. The defendant herself told Hull she suffered from depression, too.

"No doubt, you had a very difficult life," Hull told her, after reading a letter from her.

Benet's criminal history includes dozens of arrests. Convictions included multiple incidents of DUII, assault and resisting arrest. She also failed to show up in court 30 times over the years.

Jail Commander Ed Vincent told Hull that Benet was unpredictable and a management problem. She has a well documented history of uncooperative and disruptive behavior. She repeatedly hits walls with her hands, feet and head. When she gets arrested she threatens to kill the officers and their families.

However, Cumming said that until now, Benet had been convicted of only one felony in her past — for spitting on a corrections officer.

"There has not been a string of felonies here," she said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Lisa Turner said Benet's criminal conduct went back 23 years — her entire time as a resident of Josephine County.

"I do take exception to minimizing her criminal history," Turner told Hull.

Before Hull announced the sentence, Benet stood, said she was innocent and dumped on Robinson, the victim in the case at hand, who wasn't present. She recounted her own life as an abuse victim and said her son was in prison. She accused the prosecution of lying, denounced probation officers in the room and said she was a victim of the system.

At one point when she became loud, Hull held up a hand.

"I am sorry for yelling," she told him. "I am not disrespecting you, sir. I can't say that about everyone."

Hull, who also presided over Benet's trial, told the defendant he thought the sentence was appropriate.

The sentencing hearing was held in the morning, and by early afternoon, she no longer was listed as an inmate at the jail, and presumably was on her way to prison.

With credit for time served, she'll be nearly 59 years old before becoming eligible for release.

Reach reporter Shaun Hall at 541-474-3722 or

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