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Michael Jaco sentenced to 10 years for first-degree robbery

Monday, November 16, 2009 | 5:37 p.m. CST; updated 9:06 p.m. CST, Monday, November 16, 2009

COLUMBIA — Michael Jaco, 19, gave his family two thumbs up after he was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for his role in the robbery that ended in the fatal shooting of Nathaniel Bentley.

Jaco, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in connection with the June 2008 home invasion and shooting of Bentley, 22.

Public Defender Stephen Wyse said that Jaco’s age at the time of the crime, coupled with the maturity he has shown during his year and a half in prison, merits a more lenient sentence than the state-recommended 20 years.

In his testimony, Jaco asked Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane to grant him “another chance at life,” saying he had learned from his mistakes. He acknowledged that peer pressure was not a valid excuse for his actions and said he realized he “doesn’t have to do what everyone else is doing.”

Jaco is the third person to be sentenced in this case. The other defendants are:

  • Damon Williams, 24, was convicted Nov. 5 of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. He will be sentenced Dec. 18. First-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
  • 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.
  • Quillan Jacobs, 18, pleaded guilty in March to second-degree robbery. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

On June 10, 2008, three men entered Bentley’s home on Pimlico Drive in southeast Columbia while two others waited outside. Williams, Washington and Jaco demanded drugs and money, and following a verbal confrontation, Williams shot Bentley in the head.

Tina Jaco, mother of Michael Jaco, told the court her son has “matured and accepted his responsibilities” since the shooting. After the hearing, just outside the courtroom, she smiled and thanked people for their support. She declined to comment to reporters.

Wyse said that Jaco must serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.  Jaco will be credited for 18 months he has already served.

Missourian Reporter Alicia Swartz contributed to this report.


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