Three charged in Polk County shooting that killed one person, injured another

Three charged in Polk County shooting that killed one person, injured another

January 22nd, 2018 by Ben Benton in Breaking News

Robert J. Benton

Robert J. Benton

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

An 18-year-old Athens, Tenn., man remained behind bars without bond Monday on murder and robbery charges stemming from the fatal shooting of a Bradley County man on Jan. 10 in Polk County.

Robert Jerome Benton is being held at the Polk County Jail, charged with felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, Polk County Sheriff Steve Ross said Monday. Benton was arrested Jan. 18.

Two juvenile teens, also from Athens, are charged with the same offenses but their names have not been released. The sheriff said they also remain in custody. No decision has been made on whether prosecutors will seek to charge the juveniles as adults.

The charges come after an investigation into a shooting Jan. 10 in the Delano community near the McMinn County line at a home on U.S. Highway 411 that claimed the life of 20-year-old Bradley County resident Timothy Maklain Lawson and wounded Polk County resident Charles D. Buffkin, authorities said.

A third man in the home, James Meeks of Bradley County, was uninjured in the incident. Authorities said Buffkin is recovering from his wound.

All six of the individuals knew each other and had met at the Highway 411 home for a marijuana transaction, Ross said Monday morning. At some point in the transaction, an altercation broke out and Benton started firing shots.

Benton is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday in General Sessions Court. Ross said the judge could address Benton's bond during the hearing.

Ross thanked his staff, McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy and his staff, along with Bradley County Sheriff's Office Crime lab personnel and 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump's office "for their valuable assistance to resolve this incident swiftly."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at

This story was updated Jan. 22, 2018, at 11:10 p.m.