Crime Watch 8

Man sentenced to 45 years for 2019 murder along Big-4 Rail Trail in Zionsville

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — A 26-year-old Zionsville man will spend 45 years in prison for the murder of a man in 2019 along a portion of the Big-4 Rail Trail near Town Hall, the Boone County prosecutor said in a news release.

James Earl Hughes had pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the murder of 23-year-old Samuel Bennett. Hughes was sentenced Tuesday in Boone Circuit Court.

Court documents showed Hughes admitted to his parents that he killed Bennett.

After receiving reports of shots fired April 28, 2019, around the trail, police say they found Bennett’s body near a retention pond. He had been shot multiple times in the back. Later that day, an officer found a gun and footprints nearby, evidence that later connected police to the suspect.

Bennett “had been on the trail for an early morning run. Through the investigation it was determined that Hughes and Bennett did not know each other, and the shooting was a random act of violence,” said the news release from the prosecutor said.

At the time, Bennett’s murder was the town’s fourth since 1997.

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