Benfield Murder Trial concludes after long Friday deliberation

Published 11:12 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

Jury deliberations were underway Friday evening in the first degree murder trial of Chad Benfield.

Benfield is charged in the July 2017 break-in and assault of 87-year-old Mary Nolen, who died as a result of her injuries.

Benfield took the stand on Friday to testify just before lunch, answering questions regarding his whereabouts at the time of the incident as well as his almost four hour interview with detectives Jeff Markland and Mike Little, during which he denied having any involvement in the death of Nolen.

“In the beginning of the interview, they were treating me like we were buddies and like we had known each other for years. We discussed country music, sports and a lot of other things, and everything was fine to begin with,” said Benfield. “After they showed me the lab report, it was hard to describe how I felt because I was being accused of something I didn’t have any idea of to begin with.”

After Benfield had been dismissed from the stand, closing arguments began, beginning with state prosecutor Matthew Roark.

“In opening the defense told you that the state wants you to fill in the gaps, and here the only gap is exactly what happened inside of Mary Nolen’s house. The sheriff’s department has picked up and put those pieces together for the best view that we could ever hope to have as to what happened four and a half years ago on July 13th and 14th of 2017,” Roark said. “In this case, two plus two plus two plus two plus blank equals 10. You all definitely have that final two to put in that blank to get to 10.”

In the defense’s closing arguments, attorney Chris Byrd gave an explanation as to what he perceived to have happened in July 2017, stating that Benfield was not involved at all and that Nolen suffered a heart attack and fell while getting ready early in the morning, resulting in the bruises and other injuries.

As for the DNA evidence found on Nolen’s fingernails and vagina that matched Benfield, Byrd had an explanation for that as well.

“We don’t think about how if I scratch my neighbors dog, (I may) have my neighbor’s DNA under my fingernails. And from what Agent Millsaps indicated we needed to be a usable sample, It wouldn’t take very much for it to show up under there,” Byrd said.” Like I said, it is the unseen world and we do not think about things like that, and this is in all likelihood what has happened.”

“If she scratched Mr. Benfield’s dogs, its hard telling how long his DNA could have been underneath her fingernails,” Byrd said.

For updated trial coverage, including the verdict when issued, got to www.elizabethton.com.