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Florida newlywed lost at sea declared dead, judge rules

Lewis Bennet faces sentencing in his wife's death

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A judge has declared a missing Florida newlywed dead, almost two years to the day since she disappeared while honeymooning in the Bahamas with her husband.

Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Scott Suskauer's order, issued last week, declares that 41-year-old Isabella Hellman is presumed dead at sea.

Her 42-year-old husband, Lewis Bennet, faces sentencing in his wife's death this month after pleading guilty in November to involuntary manslaughter. The plea agreement caps his potential prison sentence at eight years.

Bennet was found alone in a lifeboat and repeatedly claimed he was asleep below deck when their catamaran took on water and sank.

The judge's order clears the way for the couple's 2-year-old daughter to inherit her mother's estate, which is down to $18,000 after payments for debt and lawyers.