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Jurors begin deliberations in Stryker murder trial
Stryker Nov 8
Austin Todd Stryker, 24, testifies for his defense team Nov. 8 about the events before, during and after Hannah Bender's 2019 death. Stryker has been charged with Bender's murder. - photo by Julia Hansen

Jurors began deliberations Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a 24-year-old Dawsonville man accused of fatally shooting and stabbing a 21-year-old woman.

During closing arguments, Assistant  District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva described Austin Stryker as a "stone cold killer" in his final words to the jury.

Defense attorney Brock Johnson walked the jury through the list of witnesses. Though the defense did not contest the evidence collected by law enforcement, Johnson said he disagreed with their conclusions.

“I don’t believe that Austin murdered Hannah (Bender),” Johnson said.

Stryker, 24, of Dawsonville is on trial in Dawson County before Northeastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin on charges of malice murder; felony murder; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; possessing a firearm and knife during commission of a felony; violations of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act; concealing the death of another; and tampering with evidence. 

Hannah Bender, 21, of Lumpkin County was killed between Sept. 14-15 while riding in a Mazda pickup truck with Stryker and Isaac Huff, according to previous court testimony. As the truck neared the Sweetwater Juno Road area of Dawson County, Bender was allegedly shot in the head without warning by Stryker, according to testimony given in a plea hearing in April

The jury left the courtroom around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday after hearing closing arguments and instructions by Gosselin.

Jerry Harper, the co-defendant, has yet to face trial. 

This article was originally posted by the Gainesville Times, a sister publication to Dawson County News.