Not guilty plea in restaurant robbery


A 30-year-old Kailua-Kona man on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to robbery, kidnapping, assault, burglary and theft charges stemming from a Sept. 11 reported robbery of a restaurant on Kuakini Highway in Kailua-Kona.

Klay Brian Bensch entered the not guilty pleas to first-degree robbery, kidnapping, second-degree assault, first-degree burglary and second-degree theft before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Strance, according to court records. She set his jury trial for 8 a.m. March 18.

Strance also maintained Bensch’s bail at $29,000. He remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

Bensch’s charges stem from a 10:30 p.m. Sept. 11 report of a robbery at the restaurant, which had already closed. According to the Hawaii County Police Department, Bensch entered the establishment, approached a female employee from behind, threatened her with a weapon, forced her into another room and took an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing on foot.

Bensch was subsequently arrested Sept. 17 and charged Sept. 18, according to police.