Anthony Bennett will spend the next 40 years in federal prison for killing four-year-old Carnel Chamberlain in June 2012.
Bennett, 22, of Mount Pleasant, was sentenced Thursday in federal court after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Bennett and his attorney asked for a sentence of 35 years in prison as part of a plea agreement.
“I am really at a loss for words right now. I just know I am very sorry for what I have done,” Bennett told the court, Chamberlain’s family and U.S. District Court Judge Thomas L. Ludington. “I’m just disappointed in myself.”
Speaking for the family was Chamberlain’s grandmother, Joann Moses, who addressed the court sobbing. She was not alone, as the rest of the room was full of the boy’s family and friends.
“Carnel had nothing but love inside of him,” Moses said during the victim impact statement portion of the sentencing. “For what (Bennett) has done to our family, the death sentence is not enough. The pain will never go away because of this sick coward.”
Bennett was babysitting Chamberlain on the day of his murder. The boy was reported missing that day and police began to suspect his involvement after he refused to cooperate with investigators.
After a search of the area near the boy’s home that lasted seven days, Chamberlain’s body was found by police on June 28, 2012. Police found Chamberlain’s body partially burned and buried under the boy’s home. At the time of Chamberlain’s murder, Bennett was living with the child’s mother at the home they shared.
Bennett’s defense attorney, John Shea, argued for leniency due to the defendant’s troubled past.
“There are other people responsible for Bennett’s upbringing,” Shea said. “Men are not born anti-social or violent. They develop that way.”
Assistant U.S. attorney Craig F. Wininger said the Bennett’s final sentence was completely justified.
“Carnel went from a home (with his grandmother) to a house (with his mother and Bennett), to a fireplace (and then) to a shallow grave that Mr. Bennett left him in,” Wininger said. “Mr. Bennett blatantly lied about what happened that day. He killed a child, devastated a family and betrayed a community.”
Ludington gave Bennett the maximum sentence allowed by his plea agreement.
Bennett’s case was in federal court because the crime occurred on the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Reservation.