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Jury to begin deliberations in Jack Hough slaying trial
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DeMarvin Bennett sits next to a sign being used by his attorneys in Hall County Superior Court Thursday, April 29, 2021, during closing argument by attorney Matt Leipold. Bennett is charged in the February 2019 fatal shooting of businessman Jack Hough outside of a Gainesville pharmacy. - photo by Scott Rogers

Two men, DeMarvin Bennett and Jack Hough, came to the CVS Pharmacy on a muggy night in February 2019 for different reasons. The latter sat in his car waiting for his wife, Gail, to pick up her prescription.

The former’s actions and intentions, however, have been the subject of intense scrutiny for the past three days as the murder trial will soon be in the jury’s hands.

Other coverage in the murder trial

Bennett was indicted in February 2019 by a Hall County grand jury in the Feb. 7, 2019, shooting of Jack Hough at the CVS on Park Hill Drive.

The jury heard the last pieces of evidence around 11 a.m. Thursday before a long break. Defense attorney Matt Leipold and Assistant District Attorney Kelley Robertson presented their closing arguments Thursday afternoon.

The defense has attempted to illustrate the night’s events as a man “barely scraping by” who tried to ask, not demand, money from an older man he saw in the CVS parking lot.

“Panhandling, asking for money, it can be really uncomfortable. It can be aggressive, and probably in this case, Mr. Bennett going, ‘Hey man, give me $25,’ really got a reaction out of Jack Hough.”

Next to the defense table was a chart including phrases such as “possibly not,” “possibly guilty” and “guilt likely,” in an effort to show that that “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” is the highest standard to clear.

Leipold claimed the state had not met the burden that Bennett was trying to commit a robbery and that the state similarly has the burden to disprove self defense.

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Attorney Matt Leipold makes a closing argument to the jury for client DeMarvin Bennett Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Hall County Superior Court. Bennett was charged in the February 2019 fatal shooting of businessman Jack Hough outside of a Gainesville pharmacy. - photo by Scott Rogers

The defense said the judge will discuss a lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter.

“I’m saying you should find Mr. Bennett not guilty, but if you reach a verdict of guilty as to manslaughter on any of the murder counts, then I would think likely you would reach that same verdict as to each of them.”

Citing Bennett’s interview with law enforcement, Leipold said Hough allegedly reaching for a gun is “enough to provoke a reasonable person.”

“Jack Hough did nothing to cause his death, absolutely nothing wrong,” Robertson said. “He was minding his own business, sitting in his own car … when he was attacked. Jack Hough was an innocent victim. He was an innocent victim. Self defense? Self defense from Jack Hough? And in his last moments, he experienced everybody’s worst nightmare.”

Recalling witness testimony from those at the CVS Pharmacy that night of Bennett’s allegedly suspicious behavior before the shooting, Robertson rebutted the defense’s claim that Bennett had no plan to commit a robbery.

“They want you to believe he is the most aggressive panhandler in the history of the world, when this is clearly an attempted robbery,” she said. “That’s where the whole thing starts, and to believe otherwise would require you to ignore all the evidence in the case.”

Judge Kathlene Gosselin sent the jury home after the prosecution finished its closing argument around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, instructing the jurors to return Friday, April 30, to receive instructions and take the case into deliberation.

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DeMarvin Bennett sits in Hall County Superior Court Thursday, April 29, 2021, during the closing argument by attorney Matt Leipold. Bennett was charged in the February 2019 fatal shooting of businessman Jack Hough outside of a Gainesville pharmacy. - photo by Scott Rogers
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