Dalton man sentenced to life in prison for murder in Murray County

Justin Payton Hooker

A Dalton man has pleaded guilty to malice murder in Murray County for the shooting death of a 27-year-old Chatsworth man and was sentenced to life in prison.

Justin Hooker pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Superior Court. Judge William Boyett accepted the plea.

The case against Hooker's co-defendant, Nadya Swartz of Crandall, is ongoing, District Attorney Bert Poston said. She is charged with murder and possession of a firearm during a crime and has pleaded not guilty.

Poston said the parents of the victim, Kenneth Bunn, spoke at Hooker's sentencing, as did Bunn's aunt and a sister.

Hooker had pleaded not guilty in August of last year. He was also charged with possession of a firearm during a crime.

Swartz was the ex-girlfriend of Bunn, whose body was found on March 16, 2020, at about 4 p.m. at Carlton Petty Road at the Conasauga River Bridge, then-Murray County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jimmy Davenport said. Hooker was Swartz' current boyfriend, Davenport said.

Davenport said Bunn was shot where his body was found.

"The area was processed by investigators of the Murray County Sheriff's Office and the Region One Georgia Bureau of Investigation," a press release from Davenport and then-Sheriff Gary Langford said. "It was quickly determined that the deceased male was the victim of a homicide."

"Murray County Sheriff's Office investigators and special agents of the GBI started poring over evidence and chasing down leads immediately," the press release said. "The victim of this homicide was identified as Kenneth Bunn of Chatsworth through pictures, clothing, tattoos and other information provided from witnesses."

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