For the horrific slaying of a 21-year-old woman, Austin Todd Stryker will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole.
Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin said she was a believer in second chances and the ability for people to change. But the Dawsonville man’s testimony during his murder trial was “as cold and manipulative and smart as I’ve heard, which makes me believe that you are a serious danger at whatever age you are,” she said.
“I cannot in good conscience give you the hope of parole in this case,” Gosselin said Wednesday in Dawson County Superior Court before sentencing Stryker to life in prison.
Stryker, 24, was found guilty Nov. 10 of malice murder for Hannah Bender’s Sept. 15, 2019 death. The Lumpkin County woman was shot in the head while riding in a Mazda pickup truck with Stryker and Isaac Huff in the area of Sweetwater Juno Road, according to previous court testimony.
She was then stabbed 32 times before being buried in a shallow grave in north Forsyth County.
Stryker was convicted on 24 charges, which included aggravated assault, aggravated battery, violating the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence.
“The state is thankful that Judge Gosselin gave the maximum sentence in Stryker’s murder conviction, the only one which would accomplish justice for Hannah Bender’s family,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said in a statement. “All murder cases are horrible, of course, but the actions of this defendant were especially heinous.”