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Chance of new trial undecided for Dawson County man convicted of grisly 2019 slaying
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Austin Stryker takes the stand Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Dawson County Superior Court during his murder trial for the death of Hannah Bender in September 2019. - photo by Scott Rogers

Following an hour-long hearing Tuesday, it remained uncertain whether a new trial would be set for the man convicted and sentenced for the murder of Lumpkin County 21-year-old Hannah Bender in 2019. 

During a March 14 Zoom hearing, Superior Court Chief Judge Kathlene Gosselin mostly denied 25-year-old Austin Todd Stryker’s request for a new trial, opting to reserve her ruling on part of the motion. 

At the end of his November 2021 trial, Stryker was convicted by a Dawson County jury on all 24 charges tied to Bender’s murder. In December 2021, he received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dawson County belongs to the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, which also includes Hall County. 

Gosselin denied the majortiy of the defense's motions, but wanted to reserve ruling with the defense’s concerns about not being able to fully address defendants Isaac Huff and Dylan Reid’s plea deals during closing arguments. 

One of Stryker’s attorneys, public defender Kyle Denslow, argued that Huff and Reid were also facing murder charges before their plea deals in 2021.

“That was before the jury already [during the trial]…so why couldn’t we get into it at closing?” Denslow said during the March 14 hearing. 

Supervising Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer recounted the litany of physical evidence, such as blood and clothing, that authorities had to pin the majority of the culpability for Bender’s killing and cover up on Stryker. 

“Without [co-defendants] Huff and Reid, the evidence of this man’s guilt is overwhelming. With it, I don’t even know how to describe to you how strong the evidence is,” Greer said.

Gosselin is expected to review the attorneys arguments then make a ruling.