A teen who killed 16-year-old Sincere Javier Estrada-Lopez in North Rome pleaded guilty to charges including voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Je’vion Andrez Benham, 17, was 15 at the time of the crime and charged with murder on Aug. 2, 2020, just before his 16th birthday. While he was a juvenile, Benham was charged as an adult.
Because of the plea and mitigating factors, the murder charge was reduced to a the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter. Benham pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and theft by taking during a hearing early Monday in Floyd County Superior Court.
Judge John “Jack” Niedrach sentenced Benham to 15 years in prison and an additional 10 years to serve on probation after that sentence is completed.
In accepting a plea to voluntary manslaughter, Assistant Rome Circuit District Attorney Leah Mayo said prosecutors considered Benham’s age at the time of the crime as well as the fact that both teens were armed in the confrontation.
Benham and Estrada-Lopez weren’t friends but had dealings in the past, Mayo said. Prior to the shooting, Benham had been messaging Estrada-Lopez via the Snapchat app to meet him.
The last message was six minutes prior to the 911 call, Mayo said. It read “Where you at?”
The incident was brief, both teens arrived on Grady Avenue armed. Benham opened fire.
“He felt like (Estrada-Lopez) had ripped him off,” Mayo said. “We have no reason to believe (Estrada-Lopez) fired his gun.”
Benham shot Estrada-Lopez six times, most at close range, and prosecutors said at least two shots may have been when Estrada-Lopez was already on the ground.
Then, witnesses told police, Benham took the gun off Estrada-Lopez and fled. Mayo said Benham hid the two guns in separate locations. Police found Estrada-Lopez’s firearm but not Benham’s.
Police arrived just after 7 p.m. and attempted to save the youth, but he died at the scene.