Bennett sentenced to 20 years for involvement in Stephens death - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Bennett sentenced to 20 years for involvement in Stephens death

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PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. -- The week of July 18-25, 2010 was the longest week of Jason Tritschler's life.  

That week, his 15-year-old daughter Sidnee Stephens went missing, and the search ended with her found shot, strangled and tied down with a concrete block in a creek.

Eight years later, a judge sentenced the last of five people involved in her murder to 20 years in prison.

Chad Bennett originally faced murder charges, but he accepted a plea deal to a felony charge of home invasion.

Bennett is only required to serve at least half of the sentence, depending on behavior.

Including the time he already served, he could be out in as early as eight years.

"Given what I know about his actual part was in the whole deal, (I'm) not very happy at all," Tritschler said of the sentence. "But with what prosecutors had to work with, that's about the best we could expect, really."

The prosecutor described Bennett as the leader of a small gang, the "P-Town Saints," a gang that included Carl Dane, James Glazier, Robbie Mueller and Dakota Wall.

They all played a role in Stephens' death.

Bennett's attorney, Bryan Drew, argued Bennett had nothing to do with it and Dane was the one who wanted to kill Stephens after their romantic relationship ended badly.

A judge sentenced Dane to 60 years for murder in 2011, but he killed himself before going to prison.

The others are serving sentences ranging from 26 to 60 years.  

:"We can move on. We can move forward," family friend Genevieve Hester said. "We'll have some sort of closure now and justice as best as it can be served."

Hester said she hopes Sidnee's mother, Tracy Stephens, gets peace of mind now.

Tracy addressed Bennett directly in court Friday, fighting tears as she spoke about how Sidnee's death has affected her.

"What could a 15 year old girl have done to get murdered in this way?" she yelled at Bennett from the witness stand.

She also detailed how Bennett spent time with her family during the search for her daughter. Bennett was dating Wall, Sidnee Stephens' half-sister, at the time.

She said he even spent the night at their house before Sidnee was found, and attended a vigil at the creek where her body was found.

"If I had known what he did, I would've thrown him over the side of the bridge," Tracy Stephens said.

Bennett apologized to the family in court, saying no one should have to go through what they have.

He also said he spends every day thinking about the night of Stephens' death, a death he'll have several more years to think about.

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