Jacksonville man found guilty of murder in stabbing death of roommate

Stephen Webster Bentley faces maximum of life in prison

News4Jax file photo of Stephen Bentley
News4Jax file photo of Stephen Bentley

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder in the 2014 stabbing death of his roommate, the State Attorney's Office announced Tuesday. 

Stephen Webster Bentley, 38, faces a maximum of life in prison. A sentencing hearing is set for May.

According to the State Attorney's Office, Bentley and JoeNathan Williams lived together for a brief period of time before Williams, 59, was found dead June 2, 2014, at his Arlington apartment. Prosecutors said there were several large wounds to Williams' upper body that appeared to have come from a bladed object. Williams’ left hand was severed and his right hand was also severely cut. 

About two hours before first responders arrived, according to prosecutors, Bentley took someone to a pawn shop and during that time, the person said Bentley became increasingly angry when he was told Williams was gay, which led to others in the neighborhood believing Bentley was also gay. 

In the hours after Bentley returned, several witnesses tried to visit Williams to purchase 
cigarettes from him, but Bentley answered the door, prosecutors said. Some witnesses said Bentley hid his hand and body behind the door when he answered, and one saw Bentley’s hand was bleeding from cuts. Bentley told him he cut his hand at work, although surveillance video of Bentley from earlier in the day showed there were no cuts, according to the State Attorney's Office. Witnesses also said Bentley was sweating and acting irregular when he answered the door.

Several days after Williams' death, Bentley was found in Lutz, outside of Tampa, and arrested by U.S. marshals. He was then moved to the Duval County jail.

Investigators said they discovered Williams' blood on Bentley's belongings and in Bentley's vehicle.