7:26 PM
Benny Volner

A Texas County jury has convicted a man from Mountain Grove of first-degree murder for the beating death of his cousin two years ago.

Prosecutor Chris Wade proved to the jury that 32 year-old Benny Volner beat his cousin, Dustin Skaggs, 20, to death because he believed Skaggs was having an affair with his estranged wife. The jury also convicted Volner of robbery and armed criminal action.

Skaggs' body was found in the trunk of his car in Laclede County, submerged in a water-filled quarry near the small town of Phillipsburg in February of 2008.

Three other relatives of both men were charged with Skaggs' death. Prosecutors say Dennis Volner, of Hartville believed his estranged wife, Julia Monnahan and Skaggs were having an affair. Wade alleges that Benny Volner, along with Dennis Volner and Elvis Volner hid outside Skaggs' home and waited for him to leave work about 3:00 in the morning. Anderson says Julia Monnahan pretended she had car trouble and flagged Skaggs down with a flashlight. Investigators say when Skaggs stopped to help Monnahan he was ambushed.

Court documents allege that Elvis Volner hit Skaggs in the head over 20 times with a metal pipe. The young man's body was then stuffed into the trunk of his car which was driven to Laclede County, and pushed off a hill into the quarry.

Dennis Volner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for his part in his cousins death last November and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The case against Elvis Volner, of Mountain Grove is still pending. Julia Monnahan, of Hartville is to appear in a Douglas County courtroom next week on Apr. 6th.

Benny Volner, whose case was moved to Texas County on a change of venue, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 19th.

*****Greg Brock contributed to this story