Charleston Daily Mail
June 7, 2015
A North Carolina man accused in the shooting death of a man whose body was found in St. Albans City Park last year will serve 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
In an emotional hearing, Michael “Smoov” Benbow Jr., who was ready to go to trial on Monday, pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter and second offense recidivism because he was convicted in 2009 on a wanton endangerment charge.
Benbow, 25, faced three to 20 years in prison and Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom gave him the maximum penalty. He will be eligible for parole in seven years.
Prosecutors accused Benbow of fatally shooting 20-year-old Micah Burdette, whose body was found in St. Albans City park back in September. Assistant Kanawha Prosecutor Don Morris explained there was a “drug deal of some kind set up,” and Burdette was in the vehicle with Benbow at the time.
According to previous media reports, Burdette was shot once in the head and police found text messages believed to be from Benbow on Burdette’s cellphone the day Burdette was killed.
Prosecutors recommended the maximum sentence. Benbow’s attorney David White asked for a lesser sentence or an alternative sentence at the Anthony Center, to which the victim’s family repeatedly but quietly responded “no.”
Benbow said he didn’t “want to disrespect anyone” in the hearing and asked if he could read a letter he had written.