published Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Hutcheson shooter pleads guilty in slayings, sentenced to life in prison

A Chattanooga man accused of killing his estranged wife and her mother in a waiting room at Hutcheson at Erlanger hospital in January pleaded guilty today to two counts of malice murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

James Benson, 59, admitted to killing Mary Sue Benson, 56, and Charlotte Johnson, 77, on Jan. 6 with a .38-caliber revolver in Hutcheson’s intensive care unit’s waiting room.

He entered his plea and was sentenced in Walker County Superior Court by Judge Ralph Van Pelt, who said Benson could be considered for parole after serving 30 years behind bars.

After the shooting, Benson turned himself in at the nearby Fort Oglethorpe police station.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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