Suspected Bentley shooter withdraws guilty plea

Monday, August 24, 2009 | 6:13 p.m. CDT; updated 7:19 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 24, 2009

COLUMBIA — Just a month after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, Damon Alshawn Williams said Monday in the 13th Circuit Court for Boone County that he’s an innocent man.

Williams, 24, pleaded guilty on July 24 to his role in the June 2008 shooting death of Nathaniel Bentley. But in the weeks following the plea, he wrote a letter to Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton saying that he only pleaded guilty because he thought it was the easy thing to do and that he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea.

On Monday, Hamilton agreed to reinstate Williams’ original not guilty plea and grant him a new trial.

Williams had been the last of five defendants to plead guilty to various charges in the case. As part of his plea, charges of armed criminal action and first-degree robbery were dropped.

Williams was the suspected shooter in the home invasion robbery that resulted in 22-year-old Bentley’s death.

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