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Clayton DA explains why suspect in Jack Hough's slaying wasn't charged in previous robbery as gang member
DeMarvin Bennett

An East Point man is facing one malice murder charge and four felony murder counts in the fatal shooting of a local businessman.

An indictment returned Tuesday, Feb. 26 in Hall County accuses DeMarvin Bennett, 24, of killing James Jackson Hough.

At 7:45 p.m. on Feb. 7, Hough was approached while he was waiting for his wife at the CVS Pharmacy on Park Hill Drive, Gainesville police have said.

A struggle ensued with Hough inside the vehicle. Hough was shot twice in the torso. The suspect then fled on foot.

Hough was pronounced dead at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville about an hour later.

Bennett and his girlfriend were in the Gainesville area seeking job and housing opportunities, according to police investigators.

Police said “forensic evidence developed from the scene identified” Bennett as the suspect.

Attorney Matt Leipold declined to comment.

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From left, Lt. Tommy McElroy, Investigator Brad Raper and Chief Jay Parrish gather near the entrance of the Park Hill Drive CVS Pharmacy Feb. 7. Police were called to investigate the shooting death of Jack Hough. - photo by Nick Watson

Court records from Clayton County show Bennett previously pleaded guilty in 2012 to robbery and was sentenced to 15 years with seven years to serve under First Offender Act conditions.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said Bennett was 16 at the time.

“Normally I transfer juveniles back to Juvenile Court, because I think they’re better suited to be treated and rehabilitated than just strictly punished … but this one we apparently decided to keep it in adult court,” Lawson said.

According to her review of the file Thursday, Feb. 28, the prosecutor did not recommend First Offender Act conditions and requested 10 years behind bars.

Lawson said the Forest Park Police also made reference to a group colloquially considered a “gang,” though not as established as many others around the country.

“In Clayton County, a lot of times, especially back when this incident occurred, groups of kids in an area that were friends would form a clique. They’d call it a gang, and they did things that could be interpreted as gang activity,” Lawson said.

Lawson said the group Bennett was allegedly associated with wasn’t recognized as a criminal street gang, and there was no indication the 2012 robbery was connected to being part of a gang.

The grand jury also returned a felony murder count for each alleged underlying felony: attempted robbery, robbery, possession of a firearm by a first offender probationer and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Regarding a criminal attempt to commit robbery, Bennett allegedly dressed in dark clothing and a mask while grabbing “the partially open driver’s side window of the vehicle.”

Because Hough was 73, Bennett was charged with robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a person 65 years of age or older.

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