The Washington Times-Herald

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March 19, 2014

Benjamin sentenced to 30 years in Burris shooting

Lucas Benjamin was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday in the shooting death of Devan Burris.

Benjamin, 19, pleaded guilty to attempted dealing in methamphetamine and assisting a criminal, both felonies. He will have the opportunity to serve the final eight years of his sentence on work release, according to the plea agreement accepted in Daviess Superior Court.

There were few words in the short sentencing hearing in court. There were no witnesses or testimony presented and the only statement in court came from Judge Dean Sobecki.

"This is an event that could have easily been prevented," Sobecki said. "It could have been prevented by not being there that night.

"The only thing you can do now is be a good a prisoner as you can be in the department of corrections."

Benjamin accepted a plea deal on Feb. 28, to plead guilty to attempted dealing in methamphetamine, a Class B felony, and assisting a criminal, a Class C felony. The charges of conspiracy to commit murder, Class A felonies, were dismissed.

The attempting dealing charge carried a 25-year sentence but an additional five years was added because Benjamin was carrying a handgun at the time of the shooting. The assisting a criminal charge carried a five-year sentence.

On Dec. 6, Benjamin with Logan Evans was part of a drug deal with Burris and another man. They met at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Oak Grove Road. During the deal, Benjamin was attacked by the two in an attempt to steal a gram of methamphetamine from him. During the attack, Evans shot his .410 shotgun and Burris was wounded. Burris' friend and other male then took Burris to Daviess Community Hospital and dropped him off and got the emergency room staff. Burris died of a shotgun wound to his neck soon after.

Evans pleaded guilty to murder on Feb. 25. He faces 45 years in prison. Two others charged in connection with the shooting, Heaven Berry and Wyatt Byers, are awaiting court proceedings.

Benjamin's family was in attendance during the hearing. The family of Burris was not present, although Prosecutor Dan Murrie said during the hearing they were notified.

"I feel bad for everyone in this case," Murrie said. "It's a tragedy for all the families."

Michael Chestnut, Benjamin's attorney, echoed both Murrie and Sobecki in saying it was tragic for everyone involved.

Benjamin declined comment before he was taken to prison.

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