After nearly six hours of deliberations by jurors, Austin Todd Stryker was found guilty Wednesday of malice murder for shooting and stabbing a 21-year-old woman in Dawson County.
Hannah Bender was shot in the head without warning by Stryker, 24, then stabbed 32 times. She was buried at a shallow grave site in northern Forsyth County.
Stryker was found guilty of the 24 charges he faced,. In addition to malice murder, he was found guilty of 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.
Stryker, of Dawsonville, faces life in prison without parole. Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin plans to sentence him in the coming weeks.
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.
As part of a plea deal, Huff will spend 12 years in prison and 18 years on probation for his role in Bender's death.
The jury left the courtroom about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and stopped deliberations at 5:30 p.m. before resuming at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The trial proceedings ended with a mistrial looming. Gosselin dismissed three jurors for COVID-19 reasons on Nov. 4, leaving her with no alternates for the 12-member jury pool.