McIntosh sentenced in death of Versailles man

Wanda English Burnett

A high level of security was present in Ripley County Circuit Court Monday morning, January 30 as the sentencing for Jeremiah J. McIntosh got underway at 9:00 a.m. A number of officers from the sheriff’s office were on hand along with members of the State Police Emergency Response Team.

Regarding the above normal presence of law enforcement, one member of the Benham family whispered from his back row seat before court began, “Did they think we were going to take people out?”

People entering the courtroom had to take their jackets off and go through electronic monitoring.

McIntosh had pled guilty in December to Voluntary Manslaughter, a Class B felony, in the death of Jeffrey Benham, 48, of Versailles. The incident had occurred in April of 2011 near Versailles. McIntosh had beaten Benham with a ball bat and he later died from complications from the beating.

Prosecutor Ric Hertel had one addition for the conditions of probation before Judge Carl Taul handed down the sentence. He requested that the defendant pay the funeral expenses of the deceased.

John Watson, attorney for McIntosh, had no objection to the request, which the judge granted.

McIntosh, who was given the opportuity to speak, declined.
Charlene Benham, mother of the deceased, took the stand. In a quiet, tearful voice, she said, “This is such a bad thing. I loved my son like your mother loves you,” she told McIntosh directly. “I’m trying to forgive you. I will forgive you,” she continued, in the same soft voice that seemed to bring a calmness to the courtroom.

“I’ve prayed to my son, and he’s forgiven you,” she said. She went on to say the deed had impacted all of her family including her 30 grandchildren. “It’s hard on all of us, but, we’ll make it.” She then turned to McIntosh’s mother, who was seated in the front row in the courtroom, and said, “Ma’am, I’m with you.” Tears fell down both mothers present, each with their respective losses.

Mrs. Benham was described as “classy and impressive,” from court officials following the hearing. Within her short message, she had brought the level of tension from an extremely high volume to a bare minimum.

The defendant was then sentenced to 20 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with three years suspended to probation. He will receive credit for 271 days already served in the Ripley County Jail.

McIntosh will have to adhere to all conditions of probation upon his release from prison or face doing the three years in prison. One condition of probation is to have no contact with the victim’s family.

Pictured above, Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills, left, along with Randy Thieman (behind sheriff) and Bill McDonald, jail employees, escort Jeremiah McIntosh from the courthouse Monday morning after he was sentenced on a Voluntary Manslaughter charge.