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Murder charge dropped against Joliet boxing gym owner

Bennett will testify against co-defendant

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:08 p.m. CDT

JOLIET – The owner of a Joliet gym charged with murder for allegedly setting up his business partner for a robbery entered a guilty plea this week and is expected to testify against his co-defendant at an upcoming trial.

In return for Jermain K. Bennett’s plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the murder charge, Special Prosecutor Dave Neal said Wednesday. Bennett’s armed robbery charge – a Class X felony – still stands.

As part of the disposition, Bennett will testify against co-defendant Kenneth G. Edwards, 46, at Edwards’ Sept. 10 trial, Neal said.

On Aug. 9, 2012, Sean D. McGinn, 39, parked his pickup truck behind the KO Zone Boxing Club, 218 E. Cass St., which he co-owned with Bennett. Police said McGinn had brought thousands of dollars to buy cocaine from Bennett, who instead planned to rob him.

Edwards allegedly was waiting in the parking lot and shot McGinn twice while Bennett took the cash. Police said the cocaine Bennett had promised to deliver did not exist. Nearby residents overheard the shots and called police. Bennett was arrested the day after McGinn’s slaying, while Edwards was arrested last October.

Neal was assigned to the cases from the attorney general’s office in February after the court became aware of a potential conflict between a witness and the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Neal said Bennett’s plea on Tuesday was an “open plea,” meaning he has waived his right to a trial but the number of years he will serve has yet to be decided. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for sometime in October, he said.

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