NWGA Scanner | February 25th, 2022

Dalton man facing up to life in prison after being convicted of kidnapping and raping ex-girlfriend during violent domestic

Ryan Andrew Contreras, 27, formerly of 1105 Cavender Drive, Dalton, was found guilty Tuesday by a Whitfield County jury of rape, kidnapping with bodily injury, family violence aggravated assault, family violence battery and cruelty to children in the third degree. Superior Court Chief Judge William T. Boyett scheduled sentencing for March 21. Contreras faces up to life in prison on both the rape and kidnapping charges, with a minimum sentence on the rape charge of 25 years to serve without the possibility of parole followed by life on probation. The jury was selected Monday, Feb. 14, at the Dalton Convention Center due to ongoing renovations at the courthouse. The trial, presided over by Boyett, began on Tuesday the 15th and concluded on the afternoon of Monday the 21st. The jury deliberated for almost three hours starting late Monday afternoon and concluding Tuesday morning. The state’s case was presented by Assistant District Attorney Meg Deitz Parker who heads up the Domestic Violence Unit within the District Attorney’s Office. Parker was assisted by Assistant District Attorney Michael Harty. The defendant was represented by Dalton attorney Richard Murray. Parker called 12 witnesses, including the victim and two prior victims of the defendant, and presented more than 30 exhibits during the trial. Contreras presented five witnesses and testified on his own behalf. The state’s case focused on Contreras’ abduction and rape of his ex-girlfriend with whom he shared two children that occurred on April 20, 2020. The evidence presented included multiple 911 calls made by the victim reporting the rape and continued harassment by Contreras, photographs of the victim’s injuries, and the testimony of two prior victims, who had previously been involved in a romantic relationship with Contreras and physically and sexually abused by him. The victim in the present case had made multiple reports to law enforcement that led the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Unit to take up the investigation led by Domestic Violence Investigator Jeff Silvers. Silvers’ investigation led to the discovery of the prior victims as well as additional witnesses and evidence corroborating the current victim’s statements. The state also presented the testimony of a domestic violence expert, the executive director of the Tranquility House Domestic Violence Center in Cartersville, to explain the means by which abusers gain power and control over their victims. Parker stated, “This case is the story of a brave young woman speaking up about the abuse she suffered. We discovered it wasn’t just her story but the story of two other young women who had been in romantic relationships with Contreras. Our continued investigation gave these women a voice so they could receive justice today and I could not be prouder of these women’s bravery to testify or the work of our Domestic Violence Unit to bring this case to trial.” The Domestic Violence Unit within the District Attorney’s Office was established under former district attorney Kermit McManus in 1997 in order to provide additional resources for investigating cases that are typically very challenging to prosecute. The unit is funded in part by a federal Violence Against Women Act grant as well as by local funds provided by Whitfield County. The unit also works closely with the Domestic Violence Accountability Court presided over by Judge Cindy Morris.