Murder charge dropped in Lake Monticello Shooting

By Heather Michon

A murder charge and a charge of using a firearm in commission of a felony have been dismissed against Benjamin Camp in connection with a shooting at Lake Monticello last year, according to Fluvanna County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip.

Haislip said the charges were nolle prossed, which means they can be brought against Camp again.

The charges were dismissed before a preliminary hearing held at the Fluvanna County General District Court on Tuesday (Jan. 21).

Fresh details about the fatal shooting emerged during the hearing. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Todd Shockley introduced witness testimony, photographs, and 911 recordings to support charges of entering a house to commit assault and battery in the case of Joshua Bentham-Ball of Lake Monticello.

According to the Commonwealth, Bentham-Ball, 44, and his friend Jason Farren, 36, of Palmyra, entered a home on Axle Tree Road in Lake Monticello at around 8 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2019.

The home belonged to Deanna Raymond, who lived there with her 12-year old daughter. Raymond was working a late shift that night, leaving her daughter in the care of her boyfriend, Benjamin Camp of Charlottesville.

In vivid, profanity-laced testimony, Camp told Judge Theresa Carter that he was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom when he was abruptly awakened by Bentham-Ball.

After a brief shouting match, Camp testified Bentham-Ball eventually left the room, and exited the house. From the second-floor landing, he said he saw Bentham-Ball on the front porch “holding what I thought at that time was a baseball bat.” Camp returned to the bedroom to retrieve a pistol.

Looking out the front door, Camp said he saw Bentham-Ball and Farren still standing on the porch.

“Come outside. We just want to talk,” Camp testified Bentham-Ball told him. Camp locked the front door and dialed 911 as he walked to the rear of the house.

As he spoke to the dispatcher at the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office, he heard Farren and Bentham-Ball reenter the house through the kitchen door. Farren was in front, with Bentham-Ball in the rear, he testified.

Camp said he raised his laser-assisted pistol and pointed it at Farren. “You’re going to have to shoot me…, he testified Farren said.

As Farren moved towards him, Camp fired three shots, hitting Farren in the chest. Bentham-Ball ran out of the house.

“Get the…ambulance here,” Camp told the 911 dispatcher. “I shot the (expletive).”

Multiple statements

Farren was pronounced dead at the scene. Camp and Bentham-Ball both surrendered to law enforcement without incident.

Shockley called Detective Scott Fielding, an investigator for the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office, who interviewed Bentham-Ball for several hours after the shooting.

Fielding said Bentham-Ball told him that he was close friends with Raymond and was a frequent visitor to the Axle Tree street residence; Farren was Raymond’s ex-boyfriend. That evening, Fielding testified that Bentham-Ball said the two men had tried to get in touch with Raymond and eventually decided to stop by to check in on her and her daughter. After parking on a side street and walking through a patch of woods, Bentham-Ball saw the girl watching TV through a window and she came outside to talk to them. According to Fielding’s notes, Bentham-Ball alleged that he used a spare key hidden near the kitchen door to go into the house and make a snack for the girl.

The detective testified that Bentham-Ball “changed his statements two to three times” during the interview. At one point he said he had not entered the upstairs bedroom where Camp was sleeping, while at another point he said he had gone to the room to see if Raymond was home and asleep.

He said he found the stick, which may have been a broken broom handle, in the woods on his way to the house.

Bentham-Ball’s attorney, David Lassiter, argued that his client had permission from Raymond to be in the Axle Tree house any time he wanted, which Raymond confirmed in her testimony.

The Bentham-Ball family “has always been welcome in my home,” she said. “They know where the key is.”

“There must be breaking” to support a charge of breaking and entering, Lassiter told the judge.

“Maybe Jason Farren broke into the house,” he added in his closing argument, but his client was only there to check on the daughter and cook her some food.

Shockly argued that, particularly at night, the law didn’t require active breakage to support the charge. “They were there for unlawful purposes,” he said. “That negates any permission by the owner.”

Carter certified the Commonwealth’s charge against Bentham-Ball to the grand jury, which meets on Feb. 24. He is also facing a parole violation. He remains incarcerated at Central Virginia Regional Jail.



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