Man gets 45 years for 2009 robbery

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Suffolk man was sentenced to 45 years in prison Wednesday for robbing a Family Dollar store in 2009.

Willie Rai Benthall, 27, robbed the Family Dollar Store on Constance Road at gunpoint on New Year’s Eve 2009.


He stole $975 from the register and safe with four employees inside the store. Police picked Benthall up shortly after the robbery.

Email newsletter signup

During the sentencing, Judge Carl E. Eason Jr. said even though Benthall did not have a long criminal record, he had a “serious criminal history,” citing two prior robbery convictions for which Benthall had served about nine years in jail.

Prosecutor Susan Walton said Benthall is “just a bad egg.” She sought a total of 85 years for his crimes.

Walton said the Family Dollar robbery occurred only about a year after Benthall had been released from jail for his prior convictions.

“He goes right back to the behavior he was engaged in,” she said.

Benthall’s father, Willie Whitfield Jr., and mother, Linda Whitfield, testified at the sentencing.

His parents said the death of Benthall’s older brother and their separation when he was 13 affected their son badly.

“(His brother’s death) hurt him a lot,” Linda Whitfield said.

She said she thinks he started hanging out with the wrong crowd, because “he was looking for a big brother — someone he could talk to.”

The parents said Benthall was a good person and that the crimes were out of character for him.

“We all do wrong, and what he did was wrong,” Willie Whitfield said. “He shouldn’t have to pay the rest of his life for this.”

After Benthall was sentenced, Walton said she had hoped for more active jail time, even though Eason exceeded the recommendation for the total sentence. Eason sentenced the man to a total of 105 years, but he suspended 60 years of that time.

“At least we know he’ll be off the street for 45 years,” she said.

Walton said she commends the police for “taking a dangerous criminal off the streets.”

Benthall was convicted Jan. 13 of two counts of robbery, four counts of use of a firearm, two counts of abduction and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.