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Appeal denied for man convicted of murder, dismemberment

COVINGTON — The Georgia Supreme Court has denied an appeal from a DeKalb County man convicted of murdering and dismembering his girlfriend in Newton County.

In 2009, a Newton County jury found Franklin Benson guilty of malice murder, the removal of a body from a scene of death or dismemberment and concealing the death of another involving the 2007 death of Leslyan Williams.

On appeal, Benson argued the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions.

Chief Justice Hugh Thompson said in the court’s decision this week, “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.”

Benson’s attorney, David West, argued in the appeal that the trial court erred in closing the courtroom during jury selection and that the defendant was denied effective legal representation during his trial in violation of his constitutional rights.

This argument was rejected by the state Supreme Court because his arguments were “without merit or are procedurally barred.”

The case against Benson involved the murder of his DeKalb County live-in girlfriend in 2007. Williams was reported missing by her family in Michigan, spurring a DeKalb County Police investigation into her disappearance.

A severed foot belonging to a female was discovered by a Newton County resident living off Ga. Highway 212 after she witnessed her dogs fighting over the remains.

Investigators with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation eventually found the victim’s other severed foot, legs, arms and hands near an adjacent house.

Benson was tried and convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder, plus another 11 years for the removal of body parts.