Damon Williams sentenced to life without parole for Bentley murder

Friday, December 18, 2009 | 12:05 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Floyd Bentley said in court Friday morning that there has not been "enough justice" for those involved in the robbery that led to murder of his son, Nathaniel Bentley.

Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton sentenced Damon A. Williams to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Williams, 24, was convicted Nov. 5 of pulling the trigger in the June 2008 home-invasion shooting of Nathaniel Bentley in south Columbia.

Williams' first-degree murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. He was also sentenced to serve 20 years for first-degree robbery, to be served concurrently with the murder charge, and 15 years for armed criminal action, to be served consecutive to the other two sentences.

During Floyd Bentley's statement, Hamilton reminded him that the hearing was only for Williams' sentencing, not the other men convicted in the robbery.

"If you were a father, you'd understand how I feel," Floyd Bentley responded. "For him, yes, I can live with that, but not for them other ones."

The four other men involved in the robbery pleaded guilty to reduced charges. They are:

  •  Michael Jaco, 18, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. He was sentenced in November to 10 years in prison.
  • 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.

According to testimony throughout the trial, Williams, Washington and Jaco entered Nathaniel Bentley's home at 3610 Pimlico Drive while two others waited outside. They demanded drugs and money from the people inside the duplex before Williams and Washington went upstairs to Bentley's bedroom. After a verbal altercation, Williams shot Bentley in the head.

Williams pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in July, and the first-degree robbery and armed criminal action charges were dropped. But he sent a letter to Hamilton a few weeks later asking to withdraw the plea.

Throughout the trial, Williams' attorney, Christopher Slusher, questioned the lack of physical evidence connecting Williams to the murder weapon, pointed out inconsistencies in the testimony of witnesses and questioned the reliability of the prosecutions' witnesses, including Jacobs and Jaco.

Slusher filed a motion for a new trial in November, saying the prosecution failed to establish a foundation for DNA evidence to be presented against his client, but the motion was overruled. Slusher said he plans to appeal the case.

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