A secret grand jury proceeding Wednesday formally brought an indictment against 21-year-old Joseph “Max” Benner, the fourth man charged in the 2017 murder of Haverhill High School graduate Bryce Finn, the DA’s office tells WHAV.
The closed-door session now elevates Benner’s case to the Superior Court level and comes three months after he was charged with murder and armed assault with intent to rob in connection with Finn’s shooting death.
Benner is currently held without bail and continues to serve a two-and-a-half-year sentence on drug charges.
As WHAV previously reported, 18-year-old Finn’s death began as Benner’s plan to rob the teen of his marijuana stash with boyhood pal turned co-defendant Kenneth Pitts. In Benner’s own works, the result was “things going badly,” according to a joint State and Haverhill Police interview.
Benner knew Rainbow Drive’s Finn through his younger brother and sold him the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
“Benner didn’t think of Bryce as a friend. Their relationship was generally based on business,” police wrote.
Once Benner suggested Finn as a target, the plan was to tie up Finn with duct tape and rob him of marijuana on June 6, 2017, but the intended victim confronted the men with his own gun, according to an interview conducted in early January 2019 by Haverhill Police Detective Richard Welch and State Police Trooper Robert DeMeo.
Pitts drove from Delaware with Nicholas Mandato and Thomas Warner, also indicted on murder charges. After buying duct tape and other supplies, Benner drove them to Finn’s house in Mandato’s car. According to police, “Benner said that he knew that Pitts had a gun with him.”
The murder plot went undiscovered for a little more than a year until a man called Massachusetts State Police to say “an acquaintance” named Nick had revealed his role in Finn’s murder. Mandato was subsequently arrested, and gave up the names of the other Delaware men to his cellmate. Police were directed North when Mandato said a man named “Kyle” arranged the plot. A police check of the debit card used to buy the duct tape in Haverhill led them to Benner.
Benner’s Superior Court arraignment date has not yet been set.