SCOTTSBURG, IN (WAVE) – The man charged with stealing a car and leading police on a chase that led to the death of a Charlestown police officer has taken a plea deal.
Benjamin Eads has signed a guilty plea and a conviction has been entered in the case. He will serve 30 years in jail. The length of his prison sentence was agreed upon as part of the plea deal he accepted February 15.
Eads is convicted of resisting law enforcement resulting in causing the death of an officer, stealing a car, escape and driving while suspended.
The chase Eads led officers on claimed the life of Sgt. Ben Bertram, a nine year veteran of the Charlestown Police Department and dedicated K9 handler.
Prosecutors worked together on this case because the chase went through three counties -- Scott, Clark and Jefferson -- but Eads was only charged in Scott County.
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“And because Sgt. Bertram’s collision did occur there in Scott County, we made the decision to file the charges in that county where the most serious aspect of that had happened,” Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said.
Indiana law does not allow Eads to be charged in multiple counties for the same chase, according to Mull.
“Certainly, if I could charge him in Clark County, I would -- but the law simply does not allow that,” Mull said.
Scott County Prosecutor Chris Owens said this plea deal ensures a conviction in the case and that Eads will go to prison for a long time, while also sparing Bertram’s family the pain of sitting through a trial.
“For the family, a quick resolution in this matter allows them to move on with the grieving process,” Owens said.
In the more than two months since Bertram's death, the Charlestown community continues to find ways to honor his memory.
The Charlestown Police Department is raising money for a trip to Washington D.C. as his name is added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. You can find more information on their Go Fund Me page here.
In the legislature, lawmakers are working to name the section of Highway 3 near Scottsburg where Bertram was killed as the “Sgt. Ben Bertram Memorial Mile.” A resolution for the highway change has been presented and so far, approved by lawmakers.
“These memorials are very important, just to show respect to family and friends of Ben. And the memorial is very important as a memorial and as an honor to Ben for making the ultimate sacrifice and protecting our community and our state,” said Rep. Terry Goodin, (D) District 66.
Goodin said he expects the resolution to pass. Once it does, they hope to begin putting up signs in Bertram’s honor in the spring.
A pre-sentence investigation into the case is being conducted. Eads will be sentenced formally inside the Scott County courthouse March 8.