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The Carthage Press
  • Judge denies venue change in Carthage murder

  • Jasper County Circuit Judge David Dally denied a motion for a change of venue but granted a motion for a change of judge for one of two defendants in a December 2013 Carthage murder case.
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  • Jasper County Circuit Judge David Dally denied a motion for a change of venue but granted a motion for a change of judge for one of two defendants in a December 2013 Carthage murder case.
    Jasper County Division 3 Circuit Judge David Mouton will hear the court proceedings for Kelli Benefiel, 27, one of two defendants in the Dec. 7, 2013 murder of Raymond Ritchhart, 87, who police say was beaten and stabbed during a burglary of his home at 1237 Douglas Court in Carthage.
    Judge Dally denied the defense motion to move the trial out of Jasper County.
    The other defendant in the case, Kelli Benefiel's husband, Brian Benefiel, 48, still has to go through the preliminary hearing stage, a hearing that Kelli Benefiel waived back in March.
    Brian Benefiel will appear before Judge Richard Copeland at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, at the Jasper County Courts for his preliminary hearing where the prosecution must prove they have enough evidence to take Benefiel to trial.
    The couple was arrested on Dec. 12, 2013, three days after Ritchhart's body was discovered by a neighbor checking on him after no one saw him for a couple of days.
    Police said the couple told them they entered the house specifically to steal prescription drugs. Police said the couple admitted to beating and stabbing Ritchhart, who lived and farmed outside Jasper for many years before retiring and moving to Carthage.
    The Tri-State Major Case Squad was called in to assist Carthage investigators process the scene and the leads discovered in the probe.
    No trial date had been set for Kelli Benefiel as of Wednesday.

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