Chad Benfield sentenced after conviction in the death of Mary Nolen

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022


The man convicted in the 2017 death of Mary Nolen was sentenced to the maximum of six years in prison on Monday due to what the judge described as a “substantial” prior criminal record.

Chad Anthony Benfield was convicted of two counts of criminally negligent homicide in December 2021 in the 2017 death of 89-year old Mary Nolen of Stoney Creek.

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Nolen, who was Benfield’s neighbor at the time, was found in her home by family members on July 14, 2017, unable to speak and exhibiting signs of blunt force trauma to her head and neck area. Twelve days later, Nolen passed away at the Johnson City Medical Center.

Benfield was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, but was convicted of the lesser offense at trial. The conviction carries a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum sentence of six years in prison. Benfield also was fined $3,000 for each count.

Judge Lisa Rice, who presided over the trial and determined Benfield’s sentence, said he was given the maximum due to his “substantial prior history.” Benfield’s 30-year record in Tennessee and South Carolina includes 28 felony charges, many of which were burglaries and thefts, and a 17-year jail sentence.

Rice said that Benfield was a career offender, a term describing those with six or more felony convictions. He has been in the Carter County Jail since August 2017, and the time served counts toward his sentence, the judge said.

Defense attorney Chris Byrd argued for Benfield’s release after the sentencing term is completed, but Rice said other factors need to be considered.

Benfield is facing one charge of sexual exploitation of a minor as well as 177 counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, and Rice said Benfield poses a high sense of danger to the community. She set his bond at $250,000 and an April 9 court date to review the additional charges.