Frank Blanding Pleads Guilty to Assault in Benjamin Jennings’ Death

Frank Lee Blanding pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of aggravated assault for the fight that left Benjamin Jennings dead on July 6, 2014.

Jennings, 57, was found lying unconscious and unresponsive on Bladensburg Road Northeast after a confrontation with Blanding. He died a day later at a local hospital.

Blanding, 21, was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors agreed to drop remaining charges in exchange for Blanding’s plea.

According to the proffer of facts, at approximately 10:06 p.m., Blanding and two other individuals in a green Dodge caravan stopped at a stoplight near an intersection when Jennings approached the passenger side asking for money.

After Jennings was told that no one in the vehicle had any money, Jennings then moved towards the driver’s side of the van and asked Blanding for money. When Blanding told Jennings again that no one in the van had any money, Jennings cursed at Blanding, called him a “stingy motherfu**, and threatened to cut him, documents say.

Blanding then looked at Jennings hand, saw a silver object which he believed to be a knife, and got out of the van and confronted Jennings, according to prosecutors.

They argued, but Blanding began to get back into the van. Then Jennings said, “That’s what I thought,” (or something similar) and Blanding turned around.

Blanding went up to Jennings and punched him twice in the face, knocking him out instantly. He then got back into the van, waited for the light to turn green, and drove away while seeing in his rear-view mirror that Jennings was not moving and that people were helping him, documents say.

A witness in the van told police Jennings showed Blanding his butter knife while the traffic light was green.

Police found a silver table knife on the ground near Jennings when officers arrived, documents state

According to prosecutors, Blanding told police that he was angry, not scared, when he hit Jennings and acknowledged that he was not acting in self-defense.

Blanding will remain on high-intensity supervision until his next court hearing. He could face up to 10 years in prison, but defense will be asking that Blanding serve no jail time, according to Blanding’s attorney Gabriel Diaz.

Blanding is scheduled for sentencing on January 30, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. before Judge Lynn Leibovitz.

Plea documents embedded are below:

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