A Gainesville man pleaded guilty this week and has been sentenced to life without parole in the murder of another city resident at Sun Suites Hotel on Browns Bridge Road.
Hall County Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller sentenced Jose Antonio Garcia-Flores, 29, after the defendant entered a guilty plea to malice murder on Tuesday.
Public defender Brett Willis said Garcia-Flores could have faced the death penalty in a jury trial.
“Where the evidence is clear as to the guilt of the accused, and where the propriety of the accused taking responsibility and being sentenced appropriately and quickly is apparent, justice is best served by a timely disposition that doesn’t require wasted time and effort by the courts,” said District Attorney Lee Darragh.
According to the indictment, Garcia-Flores had been living at the hotel for some time, sharing a room with Harmon Vonzell Lavender.
When a maintenance worker discovered Lavender’s dismembered body Jan. 10, three days after the murder took place, investigators were unable to find Garcia-Flores and initially listed him as a missing person whose welfare might be in jeopardy.
Further investigation, however, tracked Garcia-Flores to New York City, where he was arrested at the home of family members, according to Darragh. He was indicted Jan. 29 in Hall County.
An autopsy showed Lavender died of multiple stab wounds, with severe injuries to his head, legs, hands, genitals and internal organs.
The Gainesville Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.