Friends and family of Jody Barlow crowded the courtroom to hear the jury's verdict for Zachary Bench. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice and of second degree murder in the 2015 killing near Starks.
"There are only two people who know exactly what happened but the evidence shows that the defendant, Zachary Bench, murdered Jody Barlow," said Assistant D.A. Ross Murray.
Bench, who took the stand in his own defense tried to explain how and why, deep in the woods he shot Barlow in self defense. Prosecutor Ross Murray says his story really didn't make sense.
"Just as when he spoke to law enforcement the first time, he thought he had his story together. Then it started to unravel as they would release more details to him. The same thing happened in court today. He thought he had his story together, and as I hit him with the actual evidence, his story just started to unravel again," said Murray.
The obstruction of justice conviction was made easier for the jury as Bench, who admits he's a liar, burned Barlow's truck, trailer, and utility vehicle to cover up the murder.
Murray suggests Bench's ego caused him to think he could get away with the crimes.
"After he committed the murder, he took so many steps to try to cover up his tracks including hiding the body, including driving the side-by-side that he had taken from Jody Barlow, loading it back up on Jody's trailer, driving his truck out into the woods, burning those vehicles, burning the shirt he was in earlier," he said.
Though the state doesn't have to prove motive, according to testimony, Barlow had $4,000 on him that was never recovered.
Jurors began deliberating at 3:20 p.m. Friday and wrapped up a little after 6 p.m. In contrast to the two convictions, Bench was found not guilty of armed robbery with a firearm.
Second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence, however a sentencing hearing is set for May 5 before Judge David Ritchie.
Defense attorneys declined to be interviewed.
KPLC's Theresa Schmidt covered the trial in the courtroom. Mobile users, click HERE for more on today's testimony and closing arguments.
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