Benton City slaying suspect pleads innocent

Tri-City HeraldSeptember 19, 2013 

Suspect Noel Gonzalez

Murder suspect Noel Anthony Gonzalez

— An alleged accomplice in the Sept. 8 death of a Benton City disabled man pleaded innocent Thursday.

Noel Anthony Gonzalez, 19, made a brief appearance in Benton County Superior Court. His trial was set for Nov. 18 for one count of first-degree murder.

Gonzalez, who’s represented by court-appointed lawyer Scott Johnson, remains in the Benton County jail on $1 million bail. He voluntarily returned to be returned to Benton County after being arrested in Stanfield, Ore.

Co-defendant Noah Matlack, 18, is fighting extradition. He’s being held in the Umatilla County jail in Pendleton, where he’s been since their Sept. 9 arrests near a truck stop. They were reportedly trying to sell some rare coins and waiting to catch a bus.

The Benton City teens are charged with killing Michael Edwards during a robbery in the parking lot of the Assembly of God church in Benton City.

Edwards, 55, was stabbed with a knife several times about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 8. His body was found by a neighbor about eight hours later. It had been dragged behind a shed on the church property.

The victim’s friends said Edwards, a medical marijuana user, was in constant pain from a bone disease. He lived alone not far from the church.

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