Thomas Bennett
Photo: Alpharetta Police Department
Photo: Alpharetta Police Department

After 2 prison stints, man gets life this time for robbery conviction

He’s been arrested 24 times and served two stints in Georgia prisons. But this time, Thomas Bennett won’t be free again.

The 49-year-old was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his latest robbery conviction, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said Friday. 

Bennett’s most recent crimes happened in December 2016 in North Fulton, according to investigators. 

On Dec. 9 of that year, Bennett — wearing a camouflage jacket — approached a van stopped at a red light in Alpharetta and shattered one of the windows, according to investigators. He then climbed through the broken window and threatened the driver, 42-year-old Stephanie Ward, with a knife. 

RELATED: Alpharetta carjacking suspect in custody

Ward elbowed Bennett and slammed his head into the center console, according to police, and was able to escape and run to a nearby home for help. Bennett drove away in Ward’s Dodge Caravan. 

A week later, Bennett was wearing the same jacket when he entered the Walgreens store on Crabapple Road in Alpharetta and threatened to shoot the cashier if she did not give him the money in her register, investigators said. The cashier refused. 

As Bennett was leaving the store, he confronted two women and tried to steal a purse. He then left the store in the same Dodge van he stole the previous week, police said. Investigators obtained surveillance video from the store showing Bennett and the van. 

Ten days later, one of his neighbors told police he saw Bennett with the van. Bennett told the neighbor it belonged to a friend.

Alpharetta police arrested Bennett at his home and he remained in the Fulton jail until his trial. His DNA matched the blood found in the van, the DA’s office said. 

Bennett was convicted of armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, criminal trespass, attempted armed robbery and attempted robbery. He had 24 prior arrests, including five felony convictions, including a 2016 robbery.

Bennett was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 40 years. 

He previously served time in prison from May to October of 2008 and again from July 2009 until September 2014, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. 

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