UPDATE: Judge approves state request to withdraw death penalty in Carter County murder case
A man accused of sexually assaulting and killing his elderly neighbor in 2017 will not face the death penalty in Carter County if convicted.
Court records show Judge Lisa Rice approved a motion Monday to take that potential sentence off the table for Chad Benfield who is awaiting trial for the murder of 89-year-old Mary Nolen of Elizabethton.
Rice also ruled for jury selection and Benfield’s trial to begin in February.
Preliminary DNA evidence collected at Nolen’s home matched up with Benfield, 47, who had been released from a South Carolina prison eight months prior after serving a 16-year prison sentence on burglary charges.