Defendant sentenced to LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

Atlanta–Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., announces the ARMED ROBBERY conviction, by a Fulton County Superior Court Jury, of 49-year-old THOMAS BENNETT.

On December 9, 2016, at around midnight, 42-year-old Stephanie Ward was in her van, stopped at a red light at the intersection of Harris and Rucker Roads in Alpharetta. While Ward was stopped at the light, Thomas Bennett, who was wearing a camouflage jacket, approached the van and shattered one of the windows. Bennett climbed inside the van through the broken window and threatened Ward with a knife. In an effort to fight back during the attack, the victim elbowed the defendant and attempted to slam his head into the center console. Eventually, Ward escaped the vehicle and ran to a nearby house where she called 911. Bennett jumped into the driver’s seat and drove away.

A week later on December 15, 2016, Bennett, again wearing a camouflage jacket, entered the Walgreens store on Crabapple Road in Alpharetta and threatened to shoot the cashier if she did not give him the money in her register. The cashier refused to cower to Bennett’s demands, so he left the Walgreens in frustration. As the defendant was leaving the store, he confronted two women who happened to be outside at the time. Bennett attempted to steal one of their purses, but the woman fought off the defendant. Bennett fled the scene in the same Dodge Caravan that he carjacked from Ward a week earlier. Surveillance video from outside the Walgreens clearly captured Bennett and the van.

After the Walgreens incident, Alpharetta Police Detective D. Bochniak posted the surveillance video on the department’s Facebook page in an attempt to obtain a possible lead. On December 19, 2016, one of Bennett’s neighbors called Detective Bochniak and said he saw the defendant with the red Dodge Caravan, and when the neighbor asked Bennett whose vehicle it was, he replied that it belonged to a friend. Alpharetta Police responded to Bennett’s home and arrested the defendant. Bennett’s DNA matched the blood found in the red Dodge Caravan.

BENNETT was convicted of ARMED ROBBERY, HIJACKING A MOTOR VEHICLE, CRIMINAL TRESPASS, ATTEMPTED ARMED ROBBERY, and ATTEMPTED ROBBERY. Bennett had 24 prior arrests and (5) five prior felony convictions including a 2016 ROBBERY.

 Bennett was sentenced to

 Judge Shukura Ingram Millender, of the Superior Court of Fulton County, presided over the case. Assistant District Attorney Siri Patel led the prosecution of the case. She was assisted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Faye Rosenbaum, Investigator Kathryn Taber, and Victim-Witness-Advocate Kelsey Lindsey of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Detective D. Bochniak from the Alpharetta Police Department was the Lead Investigator in this case.