Carter Co. man charged with death of elderly woman could face the death penalty, trial set for 2020

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Photo: WJHL

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A Carter County judge ruled Thursday that a pending murder trial does meet the death penalty standards on both the state and federal level.

Chad Benfield was back inside a Carter County courtroom Thursday for a motion hearing regarding his trial in the death of an elderly woman.

Benfield has been charged in the 2017 death of Mary Nolan, 89, in the Stoney Creek community.

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On Thursday, Benfield appeared in court for a motion hearing.

Benfield’s attorneys entered a motion regarding whether the Tennessee death penalty statute is valid.

The defense argued that the power of the state is limited to the power the citizens have and the right to kill is limited to a justifiable reason.

In turn, prosecutors said that both the Tennessee and United State Supreme Courts have ruled the death penalty is not unconstitutional. The lawyers also said the case meets the guidelines set forth for imposing the death penalty.

Judge Lisa Rice ruled the case meets the standards set at both the state and federal levels and denied the defense’s motion to take the possibility of the death penalty off the table.

Benfield’s lawyers also entered a motion requesting information regarding his prior criminal history not be allowed revealed to jurors during the trial.

His counsel argued that Benfield’s four burglary convictions, which are 20 years old, would damage Benfield’s ability to testify on his own behalf.

Judge Rice ruled that the state is prohibited from asking about Benfield’s prior criminal history during the trial.

That trial is set to begin in July 2020.

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