Benito Marquez, a 17-year-old Lewis County teen charged in the beating death of Randle teen Benjamin Eastman III, is expected to plead guilty in the case during a hearing on Friday, Feb. 22.
Marquez and his brother Jonathan Adamson have both been charged in Eastman’s death, and are facing an identical set of charges: first-degree murder, first-degree rape, tampering with physical evidence and unlawful disposal of remains.
Specific details about the plea agreement will remain vague until the hearing concludes, said Marquez’s attorney, Shane O’Rourke. The hearing on Friday, which is set to be a “plea only” and will not include a sentencing, will start at 3:30 p.m. in Lewis County Superior Court’s department 2.
“There’s certain reasons until that time … I can’t give any specifics about what that entails,” said O’Rourke, who added later: “The details are essentially ironed out, we think, but there are a couple loose ends and things that need to be tied up, so I can’t give any information other than that at this time.”
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer cited legislation called the “Miller-fix,” when asked if Marquez’s age factored into negotiations with O’Rourke on a fair outcome and plea deal.
The Miller-fix, according to a post from the Washington Defender Association, essentially mandates that a juvenile receive a 25-year sentence for an aggravated murder conviction — “with an opportunity for release after serving the minimum 25 year sentence.”
Meyer called it a “presumptive release date, regardless of sentence.”
“But the main driver for me, he needs to be held accountable, and we need to make sure that Mr. Eastman has justice. I don’t care what your age is. You don’t have the right to take away someone else’s life,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he and O’Rourke were in consistent and frequent communication to reach an agreement.
“We’ve been working really diligently to get this case resolved. There are things that weigh in their favor, things that weigh in my favor. Both Shane and I have been around long enough to kind of be able to read a case and think, OK, we’re gonna be in the same ballpark as to where a case is going to end up,” said Meyer.
Marquez has been in solitary confinement — on $10 million bail — in the Lewis County Jail since July 2, 2018. When asked if the negotiations have moved quickly considering the severity of the charges, Meyer said that they have, thanks to frequent communication among parties. He added: “But, it’s not like it was a whodunit type of case.”
Meyer said he couldn’t comment how this latest update on Marquez might affect Adamson’s case.
Adamson and Marquez are accused of beating Eastman to death. The teen was reported missing by his father on June 27, 2018. Deputies later found Eastman buried in a shallow grave on June 28, according to court documents. Documents also indicate deputies believe the two were responsible for Eastman’s death because of interviews with the two suspects.
Adamson currently has a jury trial set for the week of Aug. 5.