Ben Savage

Ben Savage

CHALLIS — Challis resident Ben Savage pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder for the killing of Charlie McBride.

Savage entered the plea in a hearing before District Judge Stevan Thompson in Custer County District Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 18. He remains in jail.

Under terms of a plea agreement with the state, Savage agreed to help law enforcement officers get possession of the firearm used to kill McBride, to fully cooperate in future interviews about the killing and to take a polygraph examination to test his truthfulness. For its part, the state agreed not to file any additional charges against Savage related to the killing, including any charge for the use of a firearm. The state also agreed to recommend that Savage be sentenced to a determinate term of 20 years followed by an indeterminate term of life in prison. If Savage cooperates with law enforcement officers and the polygraph examination indicates that he has been truthful, then the state will recommend a determinate term of 17 years followed by an indeterminate term of life.

Judge Thompson informed Savage that the agreement was not binding. Judges do not have to follow sentencing recommendations.

After accepting Savage’s guilty plea, Thompson had Savage placed under oath and asked him about the basis for his plea.

ObitMcBride.jpg

McBride

Savage said, “On Feb. 25, 2019, I shot and killed Charlie McBride.” Savage answered “yes” when asked if he had shot McBride willfully, deliberately and with intent to kill. Savage also said he and his girlfriend had talked in advance about killing McBride. After more questions, Savage agreed that he had thought about it, obtained a firearm and pulled the trigger.

Thompson ordered a presentence investigation and mental health evaluation of Savage to be conducted prior to the sentencing.

Savage is charged with killing McBride on Feb. 25 up Morgan Creek. Savage was arrested March 30 at Idaho Falls Regional Airport and has been in jail since then in lieu of posting a $1 million bond.

McBride was 23 at the time of his death. He had been reported missing on March 3. His body was found March 24, burned and buried on private property up the Morgan Creek drainage northwest of Challis. McBride and Savage were working together there on Feb. 25.

During investigations that began after McBride was reported missing in early March, Savage initially told sheriff’s deputies he had given McBride a ride into Challis on Feb. 25 to buy work boots and hadn’t seen McBride since.