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Top court upholds life sentence of man who killed, dismembered his girlfriend

The Supreme Court of Georgia upheld the life sentence of a man who killed and dismembered his girlfriend, officials said.
The Supreme Court of Georgia upheld the life sentence of a man who killed and dismembered his girlfriend, officials said.
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A DeKalb County man killed his girlfriend, dismembered her body and scattered her remains in another county. Days later, a dog brought home her foot.

Mr. Franklin Benson, who was found guilty of malice murder and concealing the death of another, tried to get his life sentence overturned by claiming there was insufficient evidence.

But on Tuesday, the Georgia Supreme Court dismissed his claim and upheld his sentence.

“Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, we conclude that it was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant killed the victim intentionally and unlawfully and that the victim died from some criminal agency and not from natural causes,” the opinion read.

The following details regarding the crime were obtained from federal court records:

Mr. Benson and Ms. Leslyan Williams were dating in 2007 when Mr. Benson’s automobile repair business, located near Ms. Williams’ DeKalb County home, was having financial difficulties and she agreed to lend him more than $10,000.

On Oct. 28, 2007, a DeKalb County police officer responded to a domestic dispute call involving the couple’s argument over the money Mr. Benson owed.

Ms. Williams had refused to give Mr. Benson his car keys until he signed a promissory note for the money he had borrowed. The officer told Ms. Williams to give him his keys back, she did, and the officer left.

That evening, Ms. Williams’ credit card was swiped on the credit card machine at Mr. Benson’s Decatur business. Whoever swiped the card attempted to transfer $7,500 from her account, but the bank declined to make the transfer.

On Oct. 29, Ms. Williams had been scheduled to meet with Mr. Benson’s sister, Ms. Cassandra Benson, but she never answered her cell phone when Ms. Benson called to arrange to pick her up.

Mr. Benson also did not show up at his work that Monday morning, and he too did not answer his phone.

On Oct. 30, Ms. Brandy Snellgrove returned from work in Newton County and found a human foot on her porch that her dogs had found.

“She called the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, and in the ensuing days, officers found another foot, two legs, two arms, and two hands scattered in a heavily wooded area near a house adjacent to Snellgrove’s,” according to court records. “A coroner determined the cause of death was homicide by an unknown cause.”

Mr. Benson never reported her missing and began moving out of her house on Nov. 3. He told officers that Ms. Williams had been selling drugs from her house, and he asked another of his sisters to tell officers the same thing. She refused.

On Nov. 5, family members reported Ms. Williams missing.

By Nov. 9, law enforcement officials identified the body parts as belonging to Ms. Williams. Her head and torso were never found.

They also learned that Mr. Benson had a connection to the house where Ms. Williams’ body parts were found. The records did not mention how he was connected to the home.

Officers later recovered Ms. Williams’ car in a hotel parking lot in Chattanooga where surveillance footage showed Mr. Benson towing the car to the parking space on Oct. 29. They found her car keys in Mr. Benson’s auto shop.

On Nov. 11, Mr. Benson was arrested. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder, plus another 11 years for the removal of body parts and concealing the death of another.

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