Man extradited from Maryland to Delaware for trial in rape, killing of mother of 3

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GEORGETOWN, Delaware — A man accused in the rape and murder of a mother of three whose body was found in Maryland has been extradited to Delaware.

Matthew Burton, 31, of Dagsboro, Delaware, was charged in Maryland in the killing of 35-year-old Nicole Bennett, whose body was found in Worcester County after her husband reported her missing June 2012.

Bennett had last been seen at her job at the Bay Shore Community Church in Gumboro, Delaware. Burton, a custodian at the church, was arrested a month later near Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, after police say they found a ski mask, nylon rope and gloves under a seat in his pickup truck.

Burton was brought to Maryland before an investigation found that the killing likely was committed in Delaware.

Burton arrived in Delaware on Wednesday after a Maryland court denied a petition to hear his case. Burton argued that prosecutors only wanted him brought to Delaware because unlike Maryland, it's a death penalty state.

Prosecutors had told Burton that he could only avoid extradition to Delaware if he pleaded guilty in Maryland to first-degree murder and rape and accepted two life sentences without the chance of parole. Burton declined and fought his extradition.

Bennett's father-in-law, Bob Bennett, told the Cape Gazette in Lewes that his family is thankful the case is finally moving forward.

"It's been two-and-a-half years," he said. "We just want justice."

He said that Nicole Bennett's three daughters, now 3, 8 and 13 years old, have all been in counseling and were doing as well as can be expected.

"Christmas was tough this year," he said. "I just want it to be over with, for the girls."

The Bennett family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Bay Shore Community Church and pastor Danny Tice for employing Burton, who had been previously convicted of a sex offense against a child. The lawsuit accuses the church of allowing Burton to work there for more than two weeks after learning about the conviction.

The church and Tice unsuccessfully asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which is set for trial in September.

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