Man gets 5 years for involvement in Bentley murder

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | 5:51 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The last of five men to be sentenced in connection with the June 2008 shooting death of Nathaniel Bentley received five years in prison.

Denzel Smith, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery in April. Judge Jodie Asel of the 13th Circuit Court of Boone County placed him on home detention until his final disposition sentencing hearing Monday afternoon.

Bentley, 22, was killed during a home invasion robbery at the duplex where he lived at 3610 Pimlico Drive, according to previous Missourian reporting. Smith and his co-defendants were initially charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and first-degree robbery.

Smith made a plea agreement through the Boone County Prosecutor's office called a "10 and defer," Smith's attorney Adam Dowling said. In exchange for his cooperation, the prosecution would not argue against probation and would recommend a maximum of 10 years in prison.

"I felt that incarceration wasn't necessary," Dowling said. "He played a minor role in a tragic situation. I thought he had a good chance of making it if he was placed on probation."

But because Bentley was killed in the crime, Asel decided against Dowling's request that Smith receive probation, Dowling said. He said he thinks Asel ultimately decided on a five-year sentence because Smith "was the least culpable of the five involved with the incident."

"Although we didn't get exactly what we were asking for, I think overall it was a good turnout," Dowling said.


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