Jury selection for the trial of Benjamin Cayea — a 32-year old accused of murdering his girlfriend Shannon Jones ’15 in her home last Thanksgiving — began Tuesday in Tompkins County Court. His trial is expected to begin Friday.
Benjamin Cayea allegedly strangled Jones, an independent major in the College of Engineering, in her Cayuga Heights home on Nov. 27. He was indicted with one count of second-degree murder on Dec. 23 and pled not guilty on Jan. 2. Since his arrest, he has been kept in Tompkins County Jail without bail.
Jury selection is expected to last two days until Wednesday. If convicted of second-degree murder, Cayea faces a minimum sentence of 15 years.
Jones was involved in the Violet student satellite project team of Prof. Mason Peck, mechanical and aerospace engineering. She was also part of the Teszia Belly Dance Troupe on campus, and her friends and mentor described her as an independent and creative thinker.
In an interview with law enforcement in December, Cayea admitted to strangling Jones following an argument, according to police records.
“During a digitally recorded interview the defendant admitted that he killed Shannon S. Jones by squeezing her neck with his hands,” court records state.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 27, Cayea allegedly strangled to death Jones following a “domestic dispute.” Police arrived at Jones’ residence at 400 Triphammer Rd. where they found her dead.