PRESTONSBURG Benjamin Meek, the Prestonsburg man arrested in connection with the death of Brian Jacob Gayheart, pleaded guilty Monday in Floyd Circuit Court.
According to Commonwealths Attorney Brent Turner, Meek will be sentenced to 23 years after pleading guilty to murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence. A charge of theft by unlawful taking under $500 was dismissed.
Turner recommended 23 years for the charge of murder, 10 years for the charge of robbery, and five years for the assault and tampering charges. Under the recommendation, the prison terms are to be served concurrently.
According to Turner, Meek would be required to serve at least 80 percent of his sentence.
Gayheart, 21, was reportedly last seen alive in the Goble-Roberts of area of Floyd County. He was found by coal dock workers in Boyd County on May 12. Meek and his wife, Kaitlyn Crum Meek, were both formally indicted in June.
When asked about the speed with which the case was resolved, Turner admitted that for a murder charge, the case moved forward at a quick pace.
This is one of the most successful investigations we have ever had, said Turner.
According to Turner, the mother of the victim, Lagina Gayheart, agreed with the plea arrangement and was satisfied with the outcome. She could not be reached for comment.
Meeks official sentencing will take place on Nov. 22.
On August 31, Kaitlyn Meek, 21, pleaded guilty to three charges, including second-degree complicity to robbery, second-degree complicity to assault, and tampering with physical evidence.
Kaitlyn Meek was given five years in prison for each charge, for a total of 15 years. She must serve 20 percent of that sentence before she is eligible for parole.
The Meeks each faced several charges in connection with the death of Brian Jacob Gayheart.
As part of the plea deal, Kaitlyn Meek admitted she is partly responsible for the 20-year-olds death and agreed to testify against her husband.
During the investigation, police said they suspected a drug-related robbery as being the principal motive in Gayhearts murder. Gayheart had added Kaitlyn Meek as a friend on Facebook between April 7 and April 9 of this year; one month before he was found dead.