Benefield to change plea after striking deal

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Kelsi Lynn Benefield (Paul Sievers/The Western News)

A Troy woman accused of stealing an opioid medication from a family friend struck a plea deal with prosecutors last month.*

Prosecutors initially charged Kelsi Lynn Benefield, 28, with felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor theft. As part of a deal, Benefield will offer an Alford plea to the former charge Jan. 27.

In an Alford plea, the defendant maintains innocence, but concedes a judge or jury would convict them of the charge based on evidence. It is considered a guilty plea.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies began investigating Benefield in March 2019 after a resident complained of the theft of about 90 oxycodone pills.

The victim told Deputy Kirk Kraft the medication was kept in a bottle on the bedroom nightstand. The only suspect, according to Kraft’s affidavit, was Benefield, who visited regularly with her children.

Following the theft, the victim hid the bottle of opioids, court documents said.

On July 16, the victim and her daughter reported more thefts. The daughter told Kraft that she was home alone April 27 when she heard dogs barking. Alerted, the daughter allegedly saw Benefield leaving the house.

Benefield allegedly said that she was hoping to speak with a member of the family, but the victim’s daughter thought she might be searching for the medication.

After the incident, the victim and her daughter set up a camera aimed at the nightstand. Using a mobile phone, the pair could access the video captured by the camera, court documents said.

Viewing the footage later, the daughter saw Benefield allegedly take eight or nine pills from the medicine bottle. While taking a lengthy trip to Washington State, the pair filmed five other instances where Benefield entered the bedroom and searched the nightstand, on May 21 and 22, June 5 and 29, and finally on July 1, court documents said.

The victim took out a complaint of theft and a trespass warning against Benefield shortly thereafter, court documents said.

Kirk reported interviewing Benefield on Aug. 23. Despite the evidence, Benefield denied searching the nightstand or stealing the victim’s medication.

Benefield pleaded not guilty to the charges Sept. 23. A felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor theft charge is punishable by up to a $500 fine.

Under the plea deal, prosecutors will drop the latter charge altogether and will recommend a deferred, three-year sentence.

*This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Benefield has not formally changed her plea in court.

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