Benfield murder trial set for next summer

John Thompson • Updated Aug 29, 2019 at 10:30 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The dates for the first-degree murder trial of Chad Benfield, 46, were set during a short session in Carter County Criminal Court on Thursday. The state is seeking the death penalty in the beating death of 89-year-old Mary Nolen.

During Thursday’s session Judge Lisa Rice set the trial for two weeks during next summer. With the trial date set, several other deadlines leading up to the trial were also set.

Rice set the trial dates for July 27 through Aug. 7, 2020. Jury selection was scheduled for June 1-4, 2020.

Motion hearings for the trial were set for Sept. 12 and Nov. 12 in 2019 and Jan. 17, April 27 and July 13 in 2020. The trial dates were set so far in advance because it is a capital trial. Such trials are closely scrutinized.

The murder charge stems from Nolen’s death. She 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 suffered 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 other matters, the court instructed that detailed information should be obtained from South Carolina on Benfield’s criminal record while he was in that state and his incarceration in the South Carolina prison system.

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