NORMAN — An Oklahoma City man confessed to shooting Mary Ellyn Benavidez last week in her residence, telling police he had gone there to confront her son but that he wasn’t home, records show.
Dustin Dale Allen, 20, was charged Wednesday morning with murder in Cleveland County District Court.
Benavidez, who was 57, was shot in the chest shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday.
She died a short time later at Norman Regional Hospital.
Allen told police he was upset with Benavidez’s son, Jason, and went to the victim’s residence to confront him.
Why Allen was upset with the victim’s son isn’t explained in court records.
Neighbors described the home at 1210 Stubbeman Ave as “high-traffic,” and many suspected drug activity was the likely explanation.
Allen said he encountered Benavidez after kicking the door in and searching the house for her son.
He said he thought she was “scared” when he shot her and told police she was muttering in Spanish and backing away from him right before he took her life.
Allen, who has been arrested numerous times over the past three years, is being held at the Cleveland County jail.
His bail has not been set.
A witness list provided by prosecutors is extensive and includes dozens of Norman police officers.
Neighbors said the house was being watched in the weeks leading up to Benavidez’s death, but police have not confirmed whether the house was under surveillance.
District Attorney Greg Mashburn said on Wednesday that it’s too early to know whether his office will seek the death penalty for Allen.
“Until we’re able to go through all the reports and talk with the detectives some more, it’s too early to tell,” Mashburn said. “We also need to talk to the victim’s family before making that decision.”
Benavidez is the first homicide victim in Norman this year.
Since 2010, Allen has been arrested in numerous, mostly nonviolent felony cases.
Three months ago, he was arrested in Oklahoma County, accused of second-degree forgery and identity theft.
Those charges are pending.
In October, Allen was arrested, accused of stealing another man’s cologne and Apple iPhone.
That same month, Allen is accused of stealing a 10-inch compound miter saw.
In February, he was charged with concealing stolen property, but the case was dismissed by the state as part of plea deal.
Allen has also been charged with driving with a suspended license.
Before Allen’s arrest in Benavidez’s killing, the only arrest in a violent crime Allen had logged was in November 2010. He was arrested in connection with his then-girlfriend being punched in the face with a closed fist.
At the time, his girlfriend was 16. No charges were ever filed.
Allen married his girlfriend, who had to get her mother’s permission to do so in July 2011.
His wife filed for divorce in April.
In the divorce petition, the young woman states that she is seeking divorce due to mental and physical abuse at the hands of Allen.