Shooter in Bentley murder pleads guilty

Friday, July 24, 2009 | 6:12 p.m. CDT; updated 11:49 a.m. CST, Tuesday, November 3, 2009

COLUMBIA — The shooter in a June 2008 home invasion that turned deadly pleaded guilty Friday in Callaway County to second-degree murder.

Damon Alshawn Williams, 24, decided to plead guilty to the murder charge on Thursday night, and had charges of armed criminal action and first-degree robbery stemming from the same incident dropped, his attorney, Christopher Slusher, said.

Nathaniel Bentley, 22, was killed in the incident, which occurred at his home at 3610 Pimlico Drive during a home invasion robbery.

“We felt it was in Mr. Williams’ best interest to go ahead and enter the plea,” Slusher said. He said Williams’ plea could shorten his sentence.

Williams is the last defendant of five to enter a guilty plea in the case. Four co-defendants pleaded guilty to other charges, and provided testimony in Williams’ case. All had originally been charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and first-degree robbery.

Quillian Jacobs and Denzell Smith, both 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery in March and April, respectively. Michael Jaco, 18, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in April, and Malcolm Washington, 26, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in June.  

In the early morning of June 10, 2008, Williams, Washington and Jaco entered Bentley’s home while Bentley was asleep in an upstairs bedroom and several witnesses were downstairs. The men pointed a gun at the witnesses and demanded drugs and money. Jacobs and Smith waited outside.  

Williams and Washington went upstairs to Bentley’s room, where witnesses said they heard a verbal altercation, followed by a gunshot.

Bentley was shot in the forehead, and died later in a hospital. The men stole an Xbox 360 game system, two purses and a cell phone, and fled the scene.

Using a GPS tracking system, police were able to locate the cell phone, which had been abandoned near Route WW and Rolling Hills Road in south Columbia. Investigators found the murder weapon, a .38-caliber pistol, nearby.

Smith was arrested the day after the shooting and made statements incriminating Jaco, Jacobs, Washington and Williams.

Williams was arrested two days after the shooting after a brief standoff with police at the Eastwood Motel on Business Loop 70 East.

Slusher said Williams could receive anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

Bentley’s paternal grandmother, Sadie Turner of Sedalia, said Williams should get a life sentence for the crime.

Turner said Bentley would often make the hour-long drive to visit her, and still misses seeing him. She said she still keeps “gobs” of pictures of her grandson around her house.

“My grandson didn’t bother nobody,” she said. “He was a hard-working fella.”

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