A judge has denied a request by a Clay County drug dealer to withdraw his guilty plea in a case that involved a murder.
U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar said in a court order that Jimmy Benge waited too long to try to rescind his plea and offered no valid reasons to be let out of the deal.
Benge was charged with heading a drug operation in which he arranged for others to get pill prescriptions in other states, then sold the drugs in Clay County.
A grand jury also charged that Benge, Gerald Lee Sizemore and Vernon Renus "Red" Delph conspired to kill Eli Marcum in Clay County in December 2012 because of a suspicion that Marcum had given police information about the drug operation.
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Sizemore stabbed Marcum to death. Benge allegedly paid or offered to pay to have Marcum killed.
Benge pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to conspiring to distribute drugs. The deal called for a 20-year sentence, a payment of $23,500 in lieu of the government taking Benge's house, and restitution of $6,500 to cover Marcum's funeral.
Benge avoided the possibility of facing the death penalty.
Nearly two months later, an attorney filed a motion for Benge seeking to rescind the plea.
The motion said Benge felt rushed into making the deal and thinks a 20-year sentence is longer than he deserves.
However, Thapar said in a decision Monday that Benge had not met the requirements to rescind his plea. Benge is scheduled to be sentenced July 7.