NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It was an emotional day in the competency trial of Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson. Benson's daughter Renee was on the witness stand for much of the day Tuesday, and was seen wiping away tears during a break from testimony.
She arrived at the courthouse shortly after 9 a.m. with children Rita Benson LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc as day two of the Tom Benson competency trial got underway.
"They love their father and grandfather and have been involved in his business since teenagers," said LeBlanc family attorney Randy Smith. "This whole situation is hard."
Renee, who ran much of Tom Benson's affairs in San Antonio, and her two children were shut out of Tom Benson's operations earlier this year when Benson filed documents handing over future ownership of the Saints and Pelicans to his third wife, Gail.
That prompted the heirs to challenge the 87-year-old billionaire's competency, which led to this trial. The trial is being conducted behind closed doors. An appeals court upheld Judge Kern Reese's decision to close the hearing and keep out all members of the media.
"It's not an easy day for our clients and they prefer not to be in this situation," Smith said. "They love their father and grandfather and have been involved in his businesses since they were teenagers."
Tom Benson looked unfazed on Monday by the battle over his empire. When asked if he was still competent to run the teams, he responded strongly, "I've been running them for 50 years."
On Monday afternoon, the court heard testimony from Benson's nurse and his longtime business partner Tom Roddy. Both refused to comment publicly.
Renee wrapped up her testimony at around 3 p.m. A source said Rita took the stand afterward. Her brother Ryan is also in court and is expected to testify.
The trial is expected to last most of the week.