Bentley murder wasn't premeditated, witness testifies

Thursday, November 5, 2009 | 1:02 p.m. CST; updated 2:28 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 5, 2009

COLUMBIA — When a group of men were planning to rob someone the night Nathaniel Bentley was murdered, they never discussed killing anyone, one of the men testified in court on Thursday morning.

Quillan Jacobs, 18, testified he chose to rob Bentley because he knew "from past experience" that Bentley had marijuana.

Jacobs testified that after the robbery, he and Damon A. Williams, who is accused of fatally shooting Bentley, went back to a room at the Motel 6 on I-70 Drive Southeast, where they had planned the robbery. Jacobs told the court Williams said, "dude jumped out and he got shot," referring to Bentley, while the two were in the motel room.

Bentley was killed in a 2008 home invasion at a duplex he shared with roommates at 3610 Pimlico Drive.

As he did with Michael Jaco on Wednesday, Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Hicks walked Jacobs through the events before, during and after the robbery. Defense attorney Christopher Slusher focused on the deal Jacobs received from the prosecution in exchange for his testimony, as he did with Jaco.

After he pleaded guilty in March to second-degree robbery, Jacobs received a  seven-year sentence. When Slusher asked how much of that sentence Jacobs thinks he will serve, Jacobs replied, "It doesn't matter. I'll get out when I'm 24."

Three other men were charged in the robbery:

  •  Jaco, 18, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. He has not been sentenced.
  • Malcolm Washington, 27, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and second-degree murder and was sentenced in October to 20 years in prison.
  • Denzell Smith, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery. He has yet to be sentenced.

In other testimony Thursday, Columbia Police Detective John Short testified that Jaco lied to him during their first interview, on June 11, 2008. Slusher asked Short if he was aware that defendants have access to police reports once they are charged, seeming to imply that Jaco's change of story was inspired by his knowledge of what the other suspects were saying and what evidence police had.

Short agreed and said he didn't think Jaco was fully truthful with him until March when Jaco was about to agree to a plea.

"He would have known all the things you know that are in the Columbia Police Department reports?" Slusher said.

"Yes, I guess he would," Short said.

The trial continued Thursday afternoon, during which Hicks was expected to call more witnesses and wrap up the prosecution's case.

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