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Badge and Bar: Motions hearing set for man acquitted in Lake Lanier homicide case

POSTED: January 1, 2014 10:48 p.m.

Paul J. Bennett

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Court documents indicate a motion hearing has been set Monday for Paul J. Bennett, who faces four misdemeanor charges in Hall County State Court.

Bennett was acquitted on eight felony homicide by vessel charges and convicted on four misdemeanor counts in Hall County Superior Court on Nov. 14.

The charges stemmed from a June 18, 2012, boating accident that killed two Buford boys, Jake Prince, 9, and Griffin Prince, 13.

Bennett was sentenced to 2« years in jail for boating under the influence, failure to render aid and two counts of reckless boating.

In June 2012, Bennett was charged with homicide in the Prince brothers’ death, and in December 2012, the state charged Bennett with theft and criminal trespass in an alleged May 3, 2012, theft of a sign from Big Creek Tavern.

Prosecutors sought at a September hearing to admit the charge as evidence in Bennett’s homicide by vessel trial. Generally, evidence of a defendant’s previous charge or conduct is inadmissible.

At the Sept. 25 hearing, prosecutors said evidence showed Bennett had been drinking in the alleged theft incident, thus making the charges relevant to the homicide case.

Bennett’s attorney Barry Zimmerman said the state’s account of events was untrue, and the evidence would show that.

The judge ultimately made no ruling on the motion, and the state did not seek to admit the charges again.

Man arrested in failure to register as a sex offender

A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail on Tuesday on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

It was his second arrest on the offense in December.

Hall County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Mitchell said Steve Eugene Johnson was released from jail Dec. 11 after being held for failure to register as a sex offender. Johnson was arrested in the original offense in September 2012.

After Johnson’s release, Mitchell said Johnson filed a change-of-address notice that he was moving to Bartow County.

Authorities said Johnson notified the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office within 72 hours, under the requirements of the registration law.

The sheriff’s office obtained a warrant for Johnson’s arrest and distributed a lookout to other agencies.
Since the bulletin, Mitchell said Johnson was arrested in Cherokee County.

He was returned to Hall County, where he is being held at the jail without bond.

Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her:



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