NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It's a rare glimpse into Tom Benson's mindset, and it's something that attorneys involved in a competency hearing last year never got to see.
New court filings from a deposition in March of this year reveal new details about Benson's memory and his often hostile relationship with family members. It is sworn testimony that Benson never had to give in his competency trial last June.
The court filings in a federal lawsuit challenging Benson's reallocation of trust assets show in detail the rocky relationship with daughter Renee and grandchildren Rita and Ryan.
"Well, they tried to kill me for one thing," Benson said during his deposition. Benson goes on to explain that his daughter and grandchildren were "picking on" his wife and "hostile" at a time when he wasn't well.
The attorney asks what made him decide to bar them from Saints and Pelicans games. Benson responded that, "It got so bad Renee shook her," meaning his wife, Gayle, and he said, "That's enough, let's go."
"Mr. Benson said he thought his family was trying to kill him, and nothing could be further from the truth," said Randy Smith, an attorney for the Benson heirs.
Previous reports of the incident by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune cited unnamed witnesses who claimed it was Rita Benson who grabbed Gayle by the shoulders.
"All the salacious stuff about, 'they're trying to kill me' - that will get the headlines, but this is about the dry transfer of goods," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joseph Raspanti.
"We never got to take his deposition, but to see it now, and see that he was so lost on the facts," said Smith.
Benson told the questioner he didn't remember whether he had talked to his wife about his decision to take back his assets, saying he didn't want her to get too involved. It is a legal document being closely reviewed by attorneys for Benson's heirs.
"Possible he could use this as a reason to show he's incompetent," Raspanti said. "I don't agree with that. I think he did well in this deposition."
"We always said the truth will emerge, you can't hide the truth forever, the right thing will happen eventually," said Smith.
There could be a new attempt to determine Benson's competency. In the deposition, Benson says he "doesn't remember" or "can't recall" about a dozen times. The attorney for the heirs say they are now trying to get a complete copy of the deposition, and they say they will consider seeking a new competency hearing based on this new information.