Convicted robber sentenced to life in prison

Assistant District Attorney Ryan Leonard, Assistant Public Defender Ceylon Copes and convicted robber Baruch Benyamin, 22, stand before Judge Robert J. James who gave the man life plus five years after being convicted of two counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Andrew Agan / Douglas County District Attorney's Office

An Austell man convicted of robbing a mother and daughter at gunpoint has been sentenced to life in prison plus five years.

Douglas County Superior Court Judge Robert J. James sentenced Baruch Benyamin, 22, after a jury took less than 27 minutes to convict him on two counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Benyamin will be eligible for parole after 30 years.

Testimony in his trial painted him as the gunman in a group of men who had stalked a mother and daughter while they shopped at Walmart, then followed them to their Douglasville home where he and two other men robbed them.

Two others charged in the case, Telvin Montil Tucker, 21, and Chad Amir Washington, 22, both of Powder Springs, are awaiting trial on the same charges.

Before making his ruling, James heard from Assistant District Attorney Ryan Leonard who asked the court to impose a sentence protecting victims from future crimes by Benyamin.

“I would ask that you impose a sentence in this case that's consistent with what the victim said, that seeks to prevent Mr. Benyamin from engaging in this type of behavior and protects others from Mr. Benyamin," Leonard said.

Defense attorney Assistant Public Defender Ceylon Copes told the judge her client still has an opportunity to do something with his life.

"We are asking that the maximum sentence not be imposed in this case and that he be given an opportunity to demonstrate that he can do more with his life than he's done at this point," Copes said. "What he expressed to me is that he realizes his life is not heading in the correct direction and that he wished that he had taken up some of the opportunities that had been given to him up to this point (and) that he had listened more to his mother and followed her direction more. He knows that he has gotten himself in this situation and that he has to serve time for his involvement."

Before handing down his sentence, James reviewed Benyamin's criminal history and observed that he has been given opportunities to straighten out his life.

"(There is) nothing, really, the court can do to salvage him," he said.

After the hearing, Leonard was pleased with the sentence, saying the judge could have given Benyamin as little as 10 years in prison.

"It's a good sentence that'll go toward protecting everybody from this type of conduct," he said. "It's clear that these defendants were skilled at this. They just didn't happen upon these ladies at the Walmart. It was clear they went to the Walmart with the purpose of finding targets."

Leonard then referenced testimony indicating that the trio were supposed to be going to a club that night.

"Clearly that's in line with the motive of going to get some money up to go to the club," he said. "None of the defendants had jobs so it all fits."

It has not yet been determined whether the remaining two defendants will be tried separately or together. But for now, Leonard is pleased with the jury's decision to convict Benyamin.

"A life sentence is a good sentence for his conduct," Leonard said. "I'm happy with the way it worked out."

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