By Joe Johnson
An Athens man was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for murdering his father by shooting him in his home in Oconee County more than two years ago.
David Michael Blanton, 33, was supposed to go on trial next week, but on Sept. 18 he entered into a negotiated agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty but mentally ill to felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to records filed in Oconee County Superior Court.
As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors dismissed a charge of malice murder,
Western Judicial Circuit Judge Lawton Stephens sentenced Blanton to serve 25 years in prison without the possibility of role, to be followed by life plus five years on probation, according to the sentencing document.
According to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, the murder happened the morning of March 23, 2017 at the Scarlet Oak Circle residence of 62-year-old Michael Ray Blanton, a prominent Athens businessman.
He founded and owned Dalton Carpet One Floor & Home, located off Atlanta Highway.
Officials said David Blanton shot his father multiple times in the home the victim shared with his wife in the Lake Wellbrook subdivision.
Deputies learned that David Blanton had gone to the home, and after the victim’s wife heard gunshots in the garage, she found her wounded husband.
Blanton left the scene but was arrested a short time later after his vehicle was stopped by a Georgia State Patrol trooper.
The senior Blanton died at the hospital three days later.
The murder weapon was a pistol that had previously been stolen from a Watkinsville antique shop, officials said.
A trial was previously scheduled for October 2018, but it was delayed after Blanton’s attorney filed a notice of intent to raise the issue of insanity or mental incompetency.