Attorney General Dismisses Charge Against Former Employee of Detox Facility After Mistrial

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The California Attorney General’s office dismissed a charge against defendant Kristofer McCausland following a mistrial secured by law firm Bienert, Miller & Katzman.

Based on the evidence we did not believe our client was guilty of a crime.

On October 21, 2016, the California Attorney General’s office dismissed its sole charge against defendant Kristofer McCausland of alleged dependent adult abuse. The dismissal came after Bienert, Miller & Katzman (“BMK”) secured a mistrial following a three-week trial on the charge stemming from the death of Gary Benefield, a 53-year-old client of the detox facility A Better Tomorrow Treatment Center (“ABTTC”). The trial jury had deadlocked with a 10-2 count favoring Mr. McCausland’s acquittal.

McCausland’s defense team, led by trial attorneys Thomas Bienert, Jr., and Kenneth M. Miller of BMK, were not surprised by the jury’s decision. “We rejected any settlement offer,” explained Miller, “because based on the evidence we did not believe our client was guilty of a crime.” Accordingly, Miller and his defense team moved early and vigorously, successfully dismissing the government’s original charge of murder against Mr. McCausland in March 2016.

During trial, Deputy Attorney General Joel Samuels argued that McCausland was criminally negligent in his care and treatment of Mr. Benefield, who died less than a day after he arrived at the ABTTC facility in Murrieta. Bienert and Miller refuted these claims, highlighting that McCausland had worked only one month at the Murrieta facility at the time of the death, that he had followed the training he had been given, and that the treatment regimen given Mr. Benefield was standard in the industry and was similar to one used on Mr. Benefield in the past.

Less than a week after the mistrial, BMK filed a request with the court to dismiss the action in the interests of justice, arguing that the evidence demonstrated Mr. McCausland’s innocence. Less than one month later, the Department of Justice dismissed the case against Mr. McCausland.

In addition to Bienert and Miller, Mr. McCausland’s trial team was comprised of BMK attorneys Anne Uyeda and Karen Miller, and paralegal Carolyn Howland. BMK is a highly successful firm of trial lawyers with extensive experience in litigation, complex trials, appeals and white collar criminal defense. To learn more about the firm, please visit

In re People of the State of California v. McCausland et al., Superior Court of California, County of Riverside. Case No. SWF1501351.

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Kathryn Feather
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