Sex offender in 2-week Amber Alert search pleads not guilty, mental evaluation ordered

Benjamin Shook (Source: Smyth County Sheriff's Office)

GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL) – A convicted sex offender who was captured with a teenage girl after a two-week search through the Southwest Virginia wilderness pleaded not guilty Thursday to failing to register as a sex offender, and was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.

Benjamin Shook (Source: Smyth County Sheriff's Office)
Benjamin Shook (Source: Smyth County Sheriff’s Office)

Benjamin Shook, 41, was captured in Smyth County, Va., on July 7, two weeks after a massive multi-state manhunt began for him and 14-year-old Hayleigh Wilson of Surgoinsville. Shook, a convicted sex offender from Georgia, failed to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison in 2014, according to federal court documents.

A federal grand jury indicted Shook earlier this week with failing to register as a sex offender. His attorney entered a not guilty plea in federal court in Greeneville on Thursday afternoon.

Judge Clifton Corker was ready to set a trial date in the case but Shook’s attorney requested he be given a mental evaluation, a motion that Corker granted.

Court proceedings are on hold until that evaluation is completed.

Wilson was found along with Shook in the early morning hours of July 7. She has since been reunited with her family. She was charged in Surgoinsville with being a runaway and theft over $1,000. The theft charge was related to the theft of Wilson’s stepfather’s truck.

Shook also could face charges in Smyth County.

Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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