State will seek death penalty against Chad Benfield

John Thompson • Sep 20, 2018 at 9:26 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A man charged with the murder of an 89-year-old woman who was his neighbor will be facing the death penalty when he goes on trial.

First Judicial District Attorney General Ken Baldwin filed a motion in Carter County Criminal Court on Sept. 6, which gave notice of the state’s intention to seek the death penalty for Chad Benfield, 44.

The state gave four reasons for the decision to seek the death penalty in the murder of Mary Nolen.

The state said the first reason was because “the murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, in that it inolved torture or serious physical abuse beyond that necessary to produce death.”

The state’s second reason was that the woman’s death was “knowingly committed.”

The third reason was the victim’s age of 89.

The fourth reason was that the slaying was committed “at random and the reasons for the killing are not obvious or easily understood.”

Nolan was found badly injured at her Stoney Creek home by her daughter and granddaughter on July 14, 2017. Nolen was transported to Johnson City Medical Center, where she died on July 26.

According to the autopsy report, injuries were discovered to her skull and brain that indicated blunt force trauma, consistent with injuries received during a physical assault. Additionally, bruising was still evident and present on the tops of both of Nolen’s forearms, along with contusions to her face, scalp, chin and neck.

In response to the state’s motion, Wesley Taylor, the assistant public defender for Benfield, has filed a motion seeking to have the schedule for the trial continued to prepare for the more complex nature of a capital murder trial. Taylor also filed to have additional counsel appointed.

The next motion hearing for Benfield is scheduled for Oct. 17.

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