Randle murder suspect Jonathon Adamson pleaded not guilty Thursday to an array of new charges that could send him to prison for life.
Adamson, 21, has been in the Lewis County Jail since June 30 on suspicion of the brutal murder of 16-year-old Benjamin Eastman III. On Feb. 28, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office filed additional charges based on new information about the case.
Adamson is now charged with first-degree aggravated murder, which would carry a mandatory life sentence. He faces 10 criminal counts, including first-degree kidnapping, first-degree assault, first-degree rendering criminal assistance and two counts of tampering with a witness. Adamson pleaded not guilty to each count.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said chances of the case going to a jury trial were “very good,” even though Adamson recently turned down a plea deal just before he was to enter it in court Feb. 22.
“There was a settlement that we thought we had reached and that was rejected, so we’re just going to get ready to go to trial,” Meyer said.
Details of the deal were not made public.
Adamson’s trial is set for four weeks starting the week of Aug. 5. A larger than usual pool of potential jurors will be gathered because extensive publicity about the case could make it difficult to seat an unbiased jury, Meyer said.
Adamson’s brother, Benito Marquez, 17, pleaded guilty to participating in Eastman’s slaying on Feb. 22 and likely will take the stand against his brother as part of his plea deal. Adamson’s mother, Kindra Adamson, and Emma Brown, a person identified in court documents as his fiancee, also are expected to testify.
Deputies investigating Eastman’s disappearance found his body in a shallow grave on June 28. A cross made of sticks marked the grave. The motive in the slaying has not been made clear.