73ºF

2 charged in death of pregnant Melvindale woman arraigned on murder charges

16-year-old Jeremy Lee charged as adult offender

Jacob Barnes and Jeremy Lee
Jacob Barnes and Jeremy Lee

MELVINDALE, Mich. – Two men charged in connection with the death of a 29-year-old Melvindale woman who was five months pregnant were arraigned Thursday on murder charges.

VIDEO: Fight erupts outside courthouse after 2 arraigned in pregnant Melvindale woman's murder

Jacob Barnes, 23, of Lincoln Park, and Jeremy Lee, 16, of Detroit were charged with felony murder, first-degree murder, assault of a pregnant individual, intentionally causing death of a fetus and mutilation of a dead body.

The charges all carry maximum penalties of life without parole.

Barnes was also given a habitual offender -- fourth offense notice because of prior convictions, which holds a mandatory 25-year sentence. The maximum sentence is life, or a lesser term because of prior convictions.

Lee is charged as an adult offender.

Both Barnes and Lee pled not guilty to the charges. They were not granted bond. Lee is being held in the juvenile detention facility. Barnes is being held in the Wayne County Jail.

What happened

Amanda Lynn Benton was reported missing Sept. 28. She was found dead two days later in a vacant home on Vanderbilt Street, near West End Street.

According to authorities, Barnes and Lee fatally assaulted Benton at Woodmere and Cabot streets. She was beaten in the head, neck and abdomen, before putting her in the trunk of her car and driving her to the vacant house on Vanderbilt Street where they allegedly set her body on fire, officials said.

Police said the men drove off in her car and left it in southwest Detroit.

Barnes and Lee were taken into custody Sept. 30.

Family: Benton killed over Dodge Neon

Family members say Benton was battling addiction and that she was killed over a car.

“My daughter had some demons she was fighting,” Tom Benton, Amanda’s father, said. “She was turned away from so many different rehabs because she didn’t have the right insurance or enough money.”

Family members said Amanda was trying to kick the habit.

Florine Harper, Benton’s mother, said she was killed over a Dodge Neon. She also said that Amanda was burned alive.

“How can someone so young be so evil?” Tom Benton said. “They tortured my daughter.”

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit Email Newsletters (click here) for more stories like this.