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  • Dale Sisco

The Devil Went Down to Georgia - The Atavist, an article by Hallie Lieberman

Many years ago as an Assistant State Attorney in the 13th Judicial Circuit, I prosecuted a disturbing case. The actions of the defendant, Robert Lee Bennett, Jr., had for years been protected by money and privilege. Adopted by wealthy socialites in Towanda, Pennsylvania, Bennett followed his father into the practice of law.


In February 1991, Bennett approached Gary Clapp outside the Salvation Army shelter on Florida Avenue. Clapp was struggling with sobriety, and when Bennett told Clapp he was a professor studying the effects of alcohol, the lure of free vodka and a room for the night was too much to resist.


Gary Clapp, his lower body on fire, was discovered by a TPD officer in the mangroves along the Courtney Campbell Causeway. His lower extremities had to be amputated due to the severity of his injuries from the fire. He later identified Bennett who was thereafter arrested.


I was assigned the case to prosecute. I enlisted my colleague and friend, Chip Purcell, to work with me on the case. Together we successfully obtained a conviction of Robert Lee Bennett, Jr. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison to be followed by 13 years of probation. Following his sentence here, Bennett pled guilty to multiple offenses in Atlanta, where his was known as the "Handcuff Man", and received a concurrent sentence.


Several months ago a journalist, Hallie Lieberman, called me out of the blue to ask about this case. Her article about the "Handcuff Man" was published this week in the Atavist Magazine, No. 149. You can find the article by following the link below.


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