PORT RICHEY — Five days before he allegedly killed a woman, Steven Clairmont broke into a stranger's home and attacked him with pepper spray, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities said Clairmont, 40, knocked on the door to a house on Grace Drive about 1:15 a.m. Dec. 31, asking for a woman named Julie. The man who answered said Julie didn't live there, but Clairmont "sprayed the victim with pepper spray and pushed his way into the victim's home," the sheriff's report states.
The two fought and Clairmont fled, the report states, but the victim found Clairmont's iPhone in the yard and gave it to the Sheriff's Office.
Citing an open investigation, the Sheriff's Office declined to answer questions about the case.
Clairmont is accused of killing 35-year-old Kelly Bennett in her Port Richey home on Jan. 5. Clairmont had moved into Bennett's home a few weeks prior to her death, authorities said. Bennett's 17-year-old son discovered his mother's body and told neighbors her throat had been cut. Clairmont was spotted nearly a mile away, his clothes soaked in blood, the Sheriff's Office said.
He was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
On Tuesday, he was slapped with a new charge of armed burglary with battery for the Dec. 31 incident. The report states that the victim identified Clairmont from a photo pack on Feb. 12.
Clairmont of Port Richey has pleaded not guilty to the murder and burglary. He's being held without bail at the Pasco jail.
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.