An East Point man convicted of the 2019 killing of a Gainesville businessman is seeking a new trial, claiming that evidence allowed at trial created “enormous prejudice” against him, according to court documents.
DeMarvin Bennett, 28 was convicted of malice murder and other charges related to the Feb. 7, 2019, fatal shooting of Jack Hough, 73, outside of the Park Hill Drive CVS Pharmacy in Gainesville.
Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin sentenced Bennett in May 2021 to life in prison with the chance of parole.
Defense attorney Ralph Villani appeared in court Monday, May 22, on a motion for a new trial.
Bennett answered questions from Villani about the day of the shooting in a live video call.
Testimony during the trial showed Jack Hough was in his car while his wife went into the store to pick up a prescription.
“When you approached the car, what was your reasoning for approaching the vehicle?” Villani asked.
“To talk to him, to ask him for some money,” Bennett said.
Bennett said he was trying “to get me and my girl some boots for our job.”
After a few minutes of these questions, Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh objected that it was not appropriate. A motion for a new trial is not to retry the case, Darragh said, but to see if there were legal errors that would warrant another trial.
After Gosselin sustained the objection, Villani said his client “will have nothing to say.”
Villani’s motion for new trial featured a series of claims about improper evidence included at trial, such as allowing Gainesville Police Investigator Brad Raper to “testify unfettered as an expert” on forensics and ballistics.
Darragh said Raper was testifying about things within his knowledge as an investigator.
Villani also said he believed details about a 2011 First Offender Act conviction allowed at trial were “magnified” amid the trial on the 2019 murder.
Villani wrote in his motion that it caused “great and enormous prejudice” to Bennett.
Darragh said he did not see any legal errors or ineffectiveness by Bennett’s trial counsel.
Gosselin said she would allow both sides two weeks to file any additional case law before she would make her decision.
After leaving Hall County, Bennett was charged with murder in the July 2, 2021, stabbing of Augusta State Medical Prison inmate Ali Tanner.
That case remains open.