Former Memphis officer pleads guilty to charges - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former Memphis officer pleads guilty to charges

(WMC-TV )- Norman Benjamin, a former Memphis police officer who admitted that he lied about shooting himself, pleaded guilty to five criminal counts Friday including attempting to have a romantic rival killed.

"It's the strangest case I've seen in 35 years up here," said prosecutor Tom Henderson.

Benjamin pleaded guilty to five criminal charges, including shooting himself in the stomach while on duty then lying to investigators about who did it.

If convicted at trial, Benjamin could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

"It became a no-brainer in a lot of ways," said Defense Attorney Blake Ballin.  "Knowing that he was facing very, very severe punishment and he could limit that, he decided that it was in his best interest to plead guilty."

As part of the plea, Benjamin will serve no more than eight years.  At an upcoming sentencing hearing, he will request no time at all.

"Because of the fact that no one was physically injured, because of his positive background thus far in his life, we are hopeful the judge will consider him for probation," said Ballin.

"We will oppose it based on the grounds that we don't think he's an appropriate candidate for it and we think his offenses are too serious to warrant probation," said Henderson.

Ballin said there may be some mental health issues that played a role in this case.

A criminal information was filed against the 47-year-old former police officer Thursday. The document allows the case to bypass a grand jury and move more quickly through the legal system.

"When parties are able to agree on a resolution of a case at an early stage, there is a more efficient process where something called an information is filed," said Ballin.

Ballin said it is an agreement between the prosecutor and defense on charges that is always filed in conjunction with a guilty plea.

On September 3, he was shot in the gut while on duty and later admitted that he pulled the trigger

Benjamin is also admitted purchasing a pink revolver for a minor, then-17-year-old Kimberly Beasley, and tried to hire a hit man to kill Beasley's boyfriend, Doug Howell. He offered $800 to another man to commit the crime. He also plead to giving drugs to a minor, filing a false report, reckless endangerment with a dangerous weapon.

"He was able to limit his liability and exposure to prison time by coming up with this 8-year agreement," said Ballin.

Ballin said a criminal information advances Benjamin's case more quickly through the system.

"Because the district attorney does not have to go through the process of presenting witnesses and going in front of the grand jury, they can simply just do the paperwork based on the agreement in a much more efficient fashion," said Ballin.

Benjamin's sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 2.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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