23-year-old man sentenced to life in prison for murder of pregnant Melvindale woman

Family says Benton was killed over Dodge Neon

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DETROIT – A 23-year-old man was sentenced Thursday for his role in the murder of a pregnant Melvindale woman in September of 2016.

Jacob Barnes was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, mutilation of a dead body, and grossly negligent act causing miscarriage or stillbirth.

Amanda Lynn Benton was reported missing Sept. 28, 2016. She was found dead two days later in a vacant home on Vanderbilt Street near West End Street in Southwest Detroit. Lee was sentenced Monday morning by Judge Thomas Cameron. 

Jeremy Lee, 16,  was sentenced to 25-60 years in prison for his role after he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge for the murder Benton.

READ: Teen sentenced to 25-60 years in prison for murder of pregnant Melvindale woman

Lee and 23-year-old Jacob Barnes were arrested in September and originally charged with felony murder, first-degree murder, assault of a pregnant individual, intentionally causing death of a fetus and mutilation of a dead body. 

Family members clash outside court

The men were in court this past October for their arraignments. Family members clashed outside the courthouse. The video allegedly shows Benton’s uncle throw punches at a family member of one of the suspects.

*Warning: There is some explicit language in the video:

What happened

According to authorities, Barnes and Lee fatally assaulted Benton at Woodmere and Cabot streets. She was beaten in the head, neck and abdomen, before they put her in the trunk of her car and drove 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.”

Here is the Local 4 report from Oct. 3:

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.