NWGA Scanner | July 4th, 2021

Dalton man with over 60 arrests convicted on 7th felony

July 1, 2021 (Dalton) – A Whitfield County jury yesterday found Gregory Lamar Ward (60), formerly of 809 Heritage Circle, Dalton, guilty of family violence battery, a felony due to his prior history of domestic violence and his seventh felony overall since first felony conviction in 1978. Ward had been arrested 60 times in the past 42 years prior to his September 28, 2020 arrest in the current case. Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris presided over the trial which began on Tuesday and concluded the same day. The jury deliberated Tuesday afternoon, went home for the evening, and concluded their deliberations Wednesday afternoon before returning their verdict. Chief Assistant District Attorney, Scott Helton, who oversees the Domestic Violence Unit of the District Attorney’s Office and is the prosecutor assigned to Judge Morris’ Domestic Violence Court presented the State’s case. Ward was represented by Paul Hemmann of the Public Defender’s Office. Ward and his victim lived together until the assault leading to the present charges. The case began when a witness saw the victim trying to crawl away from the residence obviously injured. The witness saw Ward approach the victim, but then flee upon seeing that they were not alone. The victim told law enforcement that Ward had hit her multiple times and officers observed injuries including a busted and bloody lip. The case was investigated by the Dalton Police Department with follow up work and victim assistance provided by the Domestic Violence Unit. As is often common in domestic violence cases, the victim attempted to retract her accusations prior to trial claiming that her injuries were accidental. Fear of the abuser and other pressures often lead to victims minimizing or recanting the abuse and that makes it extremely difficult to hold offenders accountable and to protect victims. The District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Unit which consists of an attorney, an investigator, a victim advocate and an administrative assistant, and partnering with a victim advocate from the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center, works exclusively on these types of cases in order to achieve the best possible results for victims and the community. Judge Morris also presides over a Domestic Violence Court which is an accountability-style court program similar in some respects to the Conasauga Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans’ Court. The Domestic Violence Court enhances victim safety and offender accountability by consistent enhanced supervision of offenders. The crime of family violence battery in Georgia occurs when a person assaults another person with whom he has a certain type of relationship, including spouses, persons living in the same household, persons with children together and so on. The first offense is a misdemeanor, but subsequent offenses are felonies carrying up to 5 years in prison. Ward was convicted of family violence battery (misdemeanor) in 2018 involving a different victim. Under Georgia Law, a person with three or more felony convictions who is convicted of a forth or subsequent felony offense must serve any time ordered by the court without the possibility of parole. Ward was convicted of two burglaries in 1978, one in 1981, plus cocaine possession in 1991, habitual traffic violator in 1998, robbery in 2004, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2009. Ward has entered the Georgia prison system 9 times during his career, including two times for revocations of probation or parole in addition to his seven felony convictions. He was most recently released on July 16, 2019, a little over a year prior to his arrest for the current offense. Judge Morris set sentencing for next Thursday, July 8th at 10 AM. Ward faces up to 5 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Ward has been in custody since his arrest and remains in custody pending sentencing.