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SENTENCED: 12 years in prison for Benjamin Masch, who pleaded guilty to killing his friend

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) — 39-year-old Benjamin Masch — accused of shooting and killing his friend, has been sentenced in the case against him.

Masch pleaded guilty to a felony charge of second degree reckless homicide in the case.

On Monday, September 29th, Masch was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and six years of extended supervision.

The fatal shooting occurred during the early morning hours of February 18th.

The incident happened at a home on S. 53rd St. near Howard Ave. According to the criminal complaint, Masch and John Chelig were playing video games and drinking beer in the basement of the home after a night out drinking.

The complaint states the two men were playing with Masch’s .45 caliber handgun throughout the night. At one point, Masch allegedly loaded and then unloaded the gun.

According to the criminal complaint, Masch went upstairs to use the restroom and found Chelig holding the handgun upon his return. Masch alleges Chelig was pointing the gun at him, the television, and waving it around.

Masch told police he was not concerned about being injured because he had unloaded the gun earlier in the night, but became irritated that Chelig wouldn’t put the weapon down.

Masch attempted to grab the gun from Chelig, at which point, according to the complaint, the two jokingly scuffled over the gun.

The complaint states when Masch was able to get the gun in his possession, he reached across his own body, put the gun to Chelig’s head and intentionally pulled the trigger.

According to the criminal complaint, Masch was surprised to hear the gun fire, believing the weapon to be unloaded. At first, Masch didn’t think the gunshot struck Chelig, but when the victim began bleeding, Masch placed the gun in Chelig’s hand and ran upstairs to call 911.

Masch allegedly told the 911 operator “Oh my god, John shot himself.” Masch told police he initially lied because he was scared and didn’t know what else to do. Masch also told the 911 dispatcher Chelig was his best friend.

Masch later admitted to police that he was the one who shot Chelig.

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  • This is justice???

    12 years for shooting someone in the head? Our justice system is a joke! People serve more time for alcohol related vehicular manslaughter and this guy was sober and purposely shot someone in the head!!!

    • This is justice???

      On top of that, I’m so tired of news outlets referring to perpetrators as a victim’s friend. They did it in this case, they did it in the Slenderman case and I’m sure countless others. Friends don’t point a gun at your head, friends don’t take you to the woods to stab you, friends just simply don’t do those things, but enemies do.

      • This is justice???

        Based on some of the comments left here, it appears that there is knowledge out there about what happened that night, I happen to possess some of that knowledge. People on the street talk. The fact that they were the only two there made this case harder to prosecute, it doesn’t mean the police, the prosecution or the court believed his story.

  • Cindy

    Unless you know either of these two you don’t have the right or the knowledge to say if they were friends or not! For the person who stated Ben was sober when this occurred you obviously weren’t there, he was far from sober!!! This was an accident, a really stupid accident but still an accident. This John guy loaded the gun, Ben assumed it was empty when he pulled the trigger. Dumb move on his part yes but none the less he emptied his gun! John chased “a friend” through a park with a knife threatening to slit his throat until the police intervened yet no one heard about that! No one cares that John loaded the gun when Ben was away & pointed it at Ben upon his return!!! No one cares that for all we know John intended to intentionally kill Ben!!! Learn the facts before you comment.

    • Jay

      Lady you sound just as psychotic as ben masch you must be related. please tell us where you are getting all those “Facts” so we can never go there to read about news. you telling other people they are wrong when u are further from the truth. he said what any murder would say to the court. “oops” you are just as disturbed for trying to blame the victim in this you should be ashamed. we only know what he is telling us and i dont believe a word from a psychopath that would point a gun at a “friend” and pull the trigger. he is lucky he got that little slap on the wrist from the court.

      • C

        Actually NO HE DID NOT EVER have a similar situation in his life! And yes I know that for a fact my husband has known him for 34 years! As to whether or not he was drunk…..They were at Merrys doing shots & went to Ben’s and continued to drink till weeee hours of the night. I’m glad you think you know everything about this when the fact of the matter is you don’t. I read the criminal complaint, I know Ben, I know what type of person he is. He never chased anyone through a park with a knife threatening to cut their throat out like someone else…..just saying!

      • C

        I’m not “blaming” the victim I’m simply stating he’s not completely innocent in this. Ben is not the type of person to kill someone, Ben has never even hurt anyone so yes it was an accident. I read the criminal complaint I know what the police found, what the investigation proved…even the DA stated it was in fact an accident! And no I’m not related to him but yes I do know him.

      • Jay

        The only mistake the victim made was going home with that maniac. he should have stayed away from him like so many other people that know the guy. everyone knew something was off about the guy. wish he would have seen it too. shoulda woulda coulda. very sad story luckly we had good detectives on the case that kept pressing ben and finally got him to admit it. or else he would still be saying it was a suicide…evil evil people in this world.

    • Chris

      Well “s” I trust my life in bens hands. As do a lot of other friends of his. If they were not friends then why did he go to bens house at 2am? I know for a fact Ben has never had this hapoen before in his life. How do I kbow? Because I’ve been friends with him since kindergarten.

  • Case facts

    If you know anyone who is a regular patron at the establishment where these two were prior to the murder, you’d likely know by now that the perpetrator’s blood alcohol was below the legal limit to drive at the time he shot the victim in the head. Two other people from the perpetrator’s circle have told people that they were held hostage by him, with a loaded gun and never returned to his house after that. They knew his weapon was loaded because they talked him into handing over the gun and unloaded it. These stories were known by some before the victim was killed. As for that night, there was a terrible snowstorm, the victim asked for a ride HOME from anyone who would drive him the mile or so to his house. Anybody who frequents that bar knows who all of the regulars are, it is a friendly place , most everyone is cordial, but that doesn’t make all of us “friends” with one another. If you own a gun, you don’t take it out if you’re supposedly sitting around drunk with a friend, but he wasn’t even drunk and you never point it at someone’s head. A responsible gun owner knows that you always assume that your weapon is loaded! Also, if you’re going to blame the victim for an unrelated incident where he had a knife, you might want to learn the details surrounding that case. If you want to play that game, then you should take into account that the perpetrator was known as a woman beater by many who knew him. The difference is that he scared the women so much that they never went to the cops. You don’t have to be directly involved in a case to know what happened. Sometimes a person’s circle of past or present friends will tell you much more than you’d ever learn from the cops or court record of events.

    • Chris

      Every time I drank with Ben from early 20’s till late 30’s I’ve never encountered a mad side. Then again I belive a majority of his “friends” we’re nothing more then bar friends who could give too $hits about himwhen the bar closed. Women we hung out with were never scared of him. Mostly those who never took the opportunity to know him. Like I’ve said I’ve been friends with Ben from the time we were 5 years old n I will continue to be. Lots of holes in the story. With that said I belive it to be a tragic accident not intentional.

    • C

      FYI he dated / lived with the same woman for 8-9 years and never beat her! One if his closest friends was a woman…never beat her either! Oh wait he never laid a hand on anyone! And another FYI for ya regardless of what the heroin addicts at Merry’s say the police had to stop questioning him & let him sober up begore continuing with questioning. So again go with the facts not the bs rumors.

      • CASE FACTS

        First, I never said that I got my facts from anyone at Merry’s, or a heroin addict, for that matter! I personally do not know a single heroin addict. I simply stated that the establishment where these two were that night is typically a friendly neighborhood establishment. Nice way to divert attention and attempt to give a local business a bad name because somebody you are still friends with committed a murder after being there! I subsequently mentioned Ben’s friends, past and present. Did it ever occur to you that I might have been one of those friends that gave him the benefit of the doubt in spite of the rumors about him, (although, not anymore, since I do not commiserate with heroin addicts or murderers)? Obviously not, you jumped on the bashing bandwagon! The fact is that nobody, whether it is a friend or family member, ever wants to admit that someone they know, someone they are close to, is capable of thinking such dark thought or doing something so heinous. It’s an insult to our sensibilities. We all think we know people better than we ever truly do. The real truth is that we barely know ourselves.

      • C

        The only thing I mentioned of “that establishment” is what we experienced first hand the ONE time we were there with Ben. A Herion addict on one side & a crack addict on the other! A frequent patron as well as the bartender both stated that these individuals weren’t supposed to be in the bar yet they were anyway with track marks up & down the arms higher than a kite! We left that night & tried convincing Ben to stop going there but it was close to home & he had “friends” there. Not the type of friends we knew of his that were there for 30+ years but bar losers that frequent the bar on a daily basis with no life. One frequent customer of that bar even stated to is that her & Ben were the only normal people that go there that aren’t losers. So what does that tell you? As far as knowing/ admitting what people are capable it’s my belief that anyone is capable of murder given the situation. However knowing someone their entire life and having someone else try to tell you that your best friend of 34 years is a cold hearted killer I think the friend of 34 years would know better than the bar fly friend if that was the case. We will support Ben until this is over, we will also defend his innocence as far as wether or not this was intentional. Deep down we know it was an accident & don’t care what anyone else thinks.

  • Jay

    everyone pretending to know the facts. fact is none of you know the truth and never will know the truth. only guy that knows the truth now is ben. him and his lawyer know this and used it on the justice system. hence only 12 years. you would all be singing a different tune if you were on the other side of the fence.

    • C

      I’ll agree that no one truly “knows” the facts of what happened that night. I will also say that being my husband had known Ben literally his entire life he knows if Ben is being honest and what he has told us we believe to be factual. No one had to agree with that. I get that people are very hurt by the loss of a loved one and I’ve tried to put myself in their place. I’ve even asked myself how I’d react if that was my husband that Ben shot that night….I’d be mad, angry, and sad but I would know for a fact that it was an accident. He’s not capable of cold blooded murder, that’s not who he is. So no, I don’t believe I’d change my tune if it was my family member. Was it stupid YES!!!! But I truly believe it was just alcohol mixed with stupidity that ended in a tragedy for both men involved and their families.

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