Bentley ordered released from jail

Will testify in co-defendant’s trial

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 9, 2019

 Jamel Bentley, of Macomb Township, was ordered to be released from jail on April 4 by 16th Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga. Personal bond was set at $20,000. He is seen with his attorney, Jeffery Cojocar.

Jamel Bentley, of Macomb Township, was ordered to be released from jail on April 4 by 16th Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga. Personal bond was set at $20,000. He is seen with his attorney, Jeffery Cojocar.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MOUNT CLEMENS — Jamel Bentley was ordered to be released from jail on April 4.

Personal bond was set by 16th Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga at $20,000, with the condition that Bentley, 30, will be hooked up to a GPS tether prior to his release. He was also ordered to alcohol and drug testing twice a week.

In October 2017, Bentley and Nicholas Riddle, both of Macomb Township, were charged with second-degree murder following the death of a man they allegedly robbed and left for dead in a field off of Oliver Drive.

“He’s already been in jail for 541 days,” Marlinga said. “The sentencing guideline range is 19 months to 47 months. The whole theory is that the co-defendant, Mr. Riddle, had the intent to commit murder.”

In February, Bentley plead no contest to assault and bodily harm less than murder, a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.  Count one of second-degree murder and count two of unarmed robbery were dismissed as part of a plea bargain, with the understanding that Bentley would testify in Riddle’s trial.

Marlinga cited that during previous testimony in this case, Bentley was trying to break off the assault and help the victim.

Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Hall asked for sentencing to be adjourned, a request that was granted. Bentley’s sentencing is now scheduled for July 3.

“The basis for the plea, part of the reason was for the defendant to testify against his co-defendant Mr. Riddle,” Hall said.

Riddle was bound over to 16th Circuit Court on March 26 on charges of unarmed robbery and second-degree murder. Arraignment and a motion hearing were scheduled for April 8, after press time.   

“I would request that this court wait to sentence the defendant until his obligation under the plea deal are fulfilled,” Hall said.

Bentley’s attorney Jeffery Cojocar asked for personal bond because “this court is intimately aware of the facts of the case. He took a plea bargain and since that time has cooperated with the prosecution. I believe he’s going to provide some essential assistance in getting the actual culprit, who beat this man to death, convicted of what he should be convicted of.”   

Marlinga said the Michigan Department of Corrections, or MDOC, is recommending between 47 months and 15 years in prison. Bentley has been incarcerated in the Macomb County Jail since October 2017.

According to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched in the morning of Oct. 5, 2017, to Oliver Street after receiving a call from a resident who found Jack Kitchen lying in a field near the caller’s home.

Kitchen, 55, of Macomb Township, died due to his injuries in the hospital Oct. 25.

Cojocar said his client is not a flight risk and that he will gladly test to verify his sobriety.

Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Renee Yax in 2017 did not go into details of the incident that occurred between Bentley, Riddle and Kitchen. She said it was not a gunshot, but rather assault that resulted in injuries from a physical fight.

Bentley and Riddle were originally charged with assault to do bodily harm and unarmed robbery, according to court documents, but the charges were upped when Kitchen died.

Marlinga made it clear that all he asks of Bentley’s future testimony in Riddle’s case is for it to be truthful.