Columbia man sentenced to 20 years in Bentley murder

Monday, September 28, 2009 | 8:28 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — One of the suspects in the 2008 murder of Nathaniel Bentley was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison after the judge denied his request to withdraw his guilty plea.

Malcolm Washington, 26, had pleaded guilty in June to first-degree robbery and second-degree murder. He was sentenced Monday to 20 years for each charge, but he will serve the sentences at the same time.

In court on Monday, Washington said his mother pressured him into the guilty plea. He said he did not intend to plead guilty in the days before his court appearance, but his mother was worried about him getting a longer sentence if his case went to trial.

“I didn’t want to see my mom hurt more than she was,” he said on the witness stand. “We made eye contact, and I could see the hurt in her face.”

Boone County assistant prosecutor Richard Hicks said that Washington didn't have the right to withdraw his guilty plea because he didn't deny his guilt. Hicks said Washington was attempting to withdraw his plea because he “didn’t like the years (in prison) that he got.”

Washington’s attorney, Kevin O’Brien, said an appeal is likely.

As part of the plea agreement with Washington, the state dropped a charge of armed criminal action. The agreement also reduced Washington’s sentence from 25 years to 20 years for each charge because he initially agreed to testify against Damon A. Williams, 24, the alleged shooter.

Williams pleaded guilty to charges in July, but he withdrew his guilty plea in August. He is now charged with first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action.

According to previous Missourian reports, three other suspects have pleaded guilty to various charges in the crime. Quillan Jacobs, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery and was sentenced in August to seven years in prison. Michael J. Jaco, 18, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and Denzell Smith, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery. Both Jaco and Smith agreed to testify against Williams and have yet to be sentenced.

On the early morning of June 10, 2008, Williams, Washington and Jaco entered 3610 Pimlico Drive, pointed a gun at witnesses and demanded drugs and money while Jacobs and Smith waited in a car outside, according to previous Missourian reports.

Williams and Washington then went upstairs to Bentley’s bedroom. Witnesses said they heard a verbal altercation and a gunshot. The men stole an Xbox 360 game system, two purses and a cell phone and fled the scene, according to previous Missourian reports.

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