Prosecutor calls murders one of the most senseless he’s seen

December 18, 2012

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Bentley and Whipple receive over 60 years in prison.
LUDINGTON — Patrick Bentley and Lashawn Marie Whipple both received sentences today for the Jan. 27 murder of Fernando Ramirez and Lacey Bentley.

Patrick Bentley, 21, received a sentence of 46 to 65 years in prison for second degree murder while Whipple, 19, received a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison for second degree murder. They also received sentences for unlawful discharge of a firearm, unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle and arson.

The initial charge of first degree murder was dropped in exchange for the plea agreement.

Whipple shot Lacey Bentley twice in the shoulder in a mobile home on North Amber Road in Victory Township. Bentley then shot his sister six more times in the head. He then strangled Ramirez to death using a belt supplied to him by Whipple.

Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Spaniola called the murders senseless with no explanation.

“This is one of the most senseless murders I’ve ever seen. There has been no explanation for why, they just did it,” Spaniola said.

“Fernando Ramirez was a hard working man full of potential. Lacey was also full of potential.”

Judge Richard Cooper told Bentley he had time to reconsider his choices that day.

“There was substantial time when you could have backed off from what you were doing,” Judge Richard Cooper told Bentley. “Not only is there no explanation at all, there has been no measure of weight as to why you did what you did during the incident itself. You had abundant time to back off and yet you chose to continue on, knowing your sister had been shot by the co-defendant. She was calling for your help and you went into the room and shot your sister six more times.”

Whipple told the court she felt threatened by Patrick Bentley. She had met him a year previous and he made her feel loved. At the age of 15 Whipple had moved out of her mother’s house, due to alleged abuse from her mother’s boyfriend, and she ended up in foster care.

“I’m not trying to make excuses for anything I did,” Whipple said, crying. “At the time this happened I was so wrapped up in my past and all the pain was coming back. All I wanted to do was hurt everyone who hurt me and the ones who I loved. I look back and see I was very sick.

“I cry almost every night and am very passionate with my new life with God. Every ounce of my energy goes into making me a good person. I am a completely different person than who I was a year ago or 8 months ago.

“No matter how I face it, what I did kills me. It’s a pathetic thing to say but I am truly sorry.”

Whipple has been receiving spiritual guidance from Dr. Craig Nelson, pastor of Path of Life Ministries church in Ludington. She has also been attending a support group sponsored by Lighthouse Baptist Church.

Cooper told the court that the church has been very influential in the lives of many who have gone in front of the court and that her attendance there was a positive step.

Nonetheless, Cooper said Whipple was still responsible for her actions.

“You were alone in the room with Lacey and you stated you were not familiar with using the rifle. But you pointed it at her and you pulled the trigger twice…. you accompanied Patrick knowing that he also shot Lacey and knowing that he strangled Fernando. You furnished the belt that allowed him to continue the strangulation. Then, you travelled from Mason County to Osceola County and then to Kentucky with Patrick. Even when confronted by police in Kentucky you ran off.”

Story and photos by Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

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