NWGA Scanner | October 5th, 2022
Ronald Andrew Henry, 38, formerly of 3331 Pinewood Avenue Apt B, Chattanooga, was convicted on Wednesday on two counts of child molestation and one count of public indecency. Henry was sentenced to serve a total of 38 years in prison without the possibility of parole, the maximum allowable for those offenses.
Superior Court Judge Jim Wilbanks presided over the trial and sentenced Henry after the verdict was received. Jury selection had occurred on Monday and the case had been tried by the jury over the past two days. Assistant District Attorney Ben Kenemer presented the state’s case with assistance from the lead investigator, Sergeant Jacob Burger of the Dalton Police Department. Local attorney Jerry Moncus represented the defendant.
Sergeant Burger sought arrest warrants for Henry for two separate incidents of exposing his penis to members of the public. Henry first was seen by four teenage girls on July 14, 2021 at the Dalton Mall near the Chick-Fil-A entrance. The four teenagers were able to take photographs and two short videos of their interaction with Henry. Two of the girls were underage (13 and 14). The girls called the police and Officer Richard Cook with the Dalton Police Department responded to assist. Sergeant Burger was given the case later as a member of the criminal investigations division.
Burger picked up a second case on Henry after he was seen exposing himself at the Hobby Lobby two days later, on July 16. A concerned citizen followed him to a local business nearby and secured evidence from the establishment to identify the car Henry was driving. Burger made the connection to both cases through the two vehicles that Henry was driving during these two incidents.
At trial, Asst. DA Kenemer called a total of nine witnesses. Henry testified on his own behalf, but did not call any other witnesses or present any evidence.
During the trial, while Sergeant Burger was testifying, the defendant stood and called Burger a liar. The jury had to be sent out to the jury room while order was restored. Judge Wilbanks revoked Henry’s bond and had him taken into custody but the trial was able to resume shortly thereafter.
Judge Wilbanks sentenced Henry as a habitual felon under Georgia law given that he has three prior felony convictions out of the state of Tennessee. Henry’s first felony conviction was for burglary of a business in 2006 followed by additional convictions for burglary and theft in 2007. Georgia law requires that upon a fourth felony conviction the Court sentence the defendant to the maximum term provided by law and that any portion of that sentenced ordered to be served in confinement must be served without the possibility of parole.
Child molestation carries a maximum of 19 years in confinement followed by a mandatory one year on probation to facilitate the transition back into the community, registration as a sex offender, and so on. Judge Wilbanks could have legally probated more than one year and reduced the prison time accordingly but declined to do so.
Public indecency is a misdemeanor carrying up to 12 months to serve. That time was run concurrently with the child molestation charges.
The jury was composed of ten women and two men and they deliberated for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Four of the jurors remained in the courtroom once excused and were present when Judge Wilbanks handed down the sentence.