A Lexington man charged with murder after shooting a teenager outside a downtown nightclub pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Monday.
Robert Louis Benton, 32, was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday for the killing of Brian Carr, 19. Carr was shot three times early May 1, 2011, at Bar Lexington on Main Street, near Elm Tree Lane.
Benton pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. His attorneys have said the shooting was in self-defense; Carr allegedly had robbed Benton at gunpoint several hours before the shooting.
Prosecutors recommended Benton serve 15 years in prison. Fayette Circuit Court Judge James Ishmael told Benton at Monday's hearing that he plans to follow the recommended sentence.
He noted that Benton is ineligible for probation, which means Benton will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence, almost 13 years, before he will be eligible for parole. A formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27.
Benton also pleaded guilty to being a persistent felony offender and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun. Benton has prior felony convictions including drug possession and flagrant non-support. Family members have said Benton has nine children.
Benton, wearing a Fayette County Detention Center jumpsuit and shackles on his ankles, answered several questions from Ishmael during the hearing.
Ishmael asked Benton what he did to warrant the charge of first-degree manslaughter.
"On May 1, 2011, I ran into Mr. Carr after having a prior situation with him. I believed he was reaching for a weapon and I shot Mr. Carr multiple times," he said.
The judge asked about the prior incident.
"I was robbed at gunpoint by Mr. Carr earlier that day," Benton said.
"Where did you shoot him, sir? What part of his body?" Ishmael asked.
"In the back, sir," Benton said.
Benton said Carr was not running away from him at the time of the shooting. He said Carr had seen him at the club and knew Benton was behind him.
"He turned his back to you even though you'd had that prior occasion?" Ishmael asked.
"Yes, sir," Benton replied.
Family members of Carr and Benton were in court, but neither family spoke with reporters after the hearing.
Benton's attorney, public defender Bonnie Potter, said Benton had decided to take responsibility for his actions.
"I think, given the facts, this was a fair result for both sides," she said.