Benton found guilty for role in soaking Aynor man in gasoline, lighting home on fire

Benton found guilty for role in soaking Aynor man in gasoline, lighting home on fire

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – An Horry County jury came back with verdicts of guilty Friday in the trial of one of the suspects charged with soaking an Aynor man in gasoline before setting his house on fire in 2014.

According to information from the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office, Tommy Benton was convicted on the charges of murder, arson and burglary, and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Benton was found guilty for his role in the April 2014 mobile home fire that led to the death of 68-year-old Charles Bryant Smith.

Smith was restrained and dowsed in gasoline before he and the trailer were set ablaze.

"I am glad for the family," 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said. "It was a very horrific set of facts and circumstances. Nobody deserves what happened to Charles Bryant Smith, but the family was pleased [with the verdict] and I'm glad this chapter is closed for them."

One of the people the jurors heard from during this week's trial was co-defendant Douglas Thomas, who testified against Benton on Tuesday.

Thomas stated that he, Benton and another co-defendant, Mitchel Cheatham, went to Smith's trailer in search of $100,000.

The victim, Thomas testified, was known to carry large amounts of money with him since he owned and rented out as many as 50 properties to tenants.

According to court testimony, the original plan was just to rob Smith. However, things reportedly escalated as the victim was handcuffed behind his back and beaten with a crowbar.

Thomas's and Cheatham's cases have not yet gone to trial.

Online records for the J. Reuben Long Detention Center state Cheatham and Thomas are both currently in jail

WMBF News partner My Horry News contributed to this report.

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