Former Deputy Pleads Guilty to Self-Inflicting a Gunshot Wound

Benny Harding
Benny Harding

Former Deputy Pleads Guilty to Self-Inflicting a Gunshot Wound
By: Crystal Britt

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. - Former McCracken County Sheriff's Deputy Benny Harding pleaded guilty to inflicting his own gunshot wound Wednesday.

Both sides reached a deal, meaning no trial for the man accused of shooting himself and lying about it.  The deal is for seven years behind bars, but there's a chance he'll only serve 20 percent of that.  The prosecution originally suggested 20 years.  With the thought of a jury trial, Harding's attorney said a plea deal was in Harding's best interest.

Last October, Benny Harding claimed he was shot while checking out a suspicious car in McCracken County.  An internal investigation determined he shot himself.  Now, several months later he publicly admits his guilt.

"I hope I haven't caused the Sheriff's Department any embarrassment and all the agencies involved...(I) caused great harm to my family and lots of people, and I'm sorry for it," said Harding. 

Harding's attorney said there is no need for a trial.  They entered into an agreement with the commonwealth attorney.

"We both agreed that was the best thing for him to do and the right thing for him to do at this point, to take responsibility for it.  That's what we did," said Andrew Coiner.  "We feel like if we went to trial and Benny was convicted, any time the jury would give him would be ordered to be served by the judge.  And judges don't like to probate people who've been convicted of crimes by juries and you can understand that."

A judge will make the final call, but under the deal Harding will serve 20 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

But, will we ever find out why the veteran officer shot himself?

"Some of the terms that have been talked about as far as reasons are concerned, he doesn't feel are correct, but we'll set the record straight at the appropriate time," Coiner said.

Coiner said that will come on sentencing day, October 18, 2007. Then, he said, we'll hear Harding's side of the story.