The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Drug charges advance for murder case witness
Drug charges against a Stafford man whose arrest last year led to the discovery of the remains of a man who’d been missing nearly six years were sent to a county grand jury Thursday.
Dennis Paul Benzie, 58, was arrested in March following a raid at his home at 881 Belle Plains Road. Eleven charges, including eight counts of manufacturing methamphetamines, were certified after Benzie waived a preliminary hearing in Stafford General District Court.
Following last March’s raid, Benzie alerted Stafford authorities to a homicide that had occurred on his property in 2007. He told police that 31-year-old Jason Plaster had been shot to death, and he named county residents William Joseph Hughes and Stuart Lee Sullivan as Plaster’s executioners.
Police spent about a week digging on Benzie’s 80-acre tract near Potomac Creek before finding remains in the general area where Benzie had said they’d be. An autopsy confirmed that the remains were those of Plaster and that he had been shot to death.
Sullivan has already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces a prison term of between 12 and 21 years in prison when he is sentenced this March 21.
A three-day jury trial for Hughes was supposed to start next week, but has been continued indefinitely. The next scheduled court appearance for Hughes is a motions hearing on March 3.
Benzie is expected to be a key prosecution witness against Hughes. He has already testified at a preliminary hearing that Hughes hatched a plan to kill Plaster and got Sullivan and Benzie to assist him.
He said Plaster was lured into the woods under the pretense of getting some guns that were buried there. Benzie said Hughes then shot Plaster in the chest, and Sullivan shot him after he was already on the ground.
Plaster was then buried and covered with lime, according to the story. His car was then taken to Fredericksburg and abandoned. The motive for the slaying has not been revealed.
The end result of Benzie’s drug charges is likely tied to his ongoing cooperation in the murder prosecution. Prosecutors have publicly acknowledged that they’ve made a deal with Benzie in which he won’t be charged with murder as long as he cooperates.
Court records list the date of Plaster’s slaying as June 1, 2007.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404