NWGA Scanner | January 8th, 2022

Three pleads guilty in horrific child sex abuse case in Whitfield County

Sally Ann Garcia, 48, of 1123 Riverbend Road SE, Dalton, Ga., entered a guilty plea on Thursday to child molestation and incest for acts of sexual abuse she participated in against her own child.  The guilty plea came during the third day of her trial for those same crimes. Superior Court Judge Jim Wilbanks sentenced Ms. Garcia to the maximum time allowed by law, 50 years with the first 49 to be served in prison followed by a statutorily mandated one year on probation. Judge Wilbanks said from the bench that “horrific does not even begin to describe the crimes committed against this child.” A jury had been selected in the case on Monday at the Dalton Convention Center due to ongoing renovations at the Courthouse.  Chief Child Abuse Prosecutor Ben Kenemer represented the state while local attorney Mike Corbin represented Ms. Garcia.  Evidence was presented on Tuesday and Wednesday and was set to resume Thursday after lunch when Ms. Garcia decided she wished to enter a guilty plea. Prosecutor Kenemer had called 15 witnesses up to that point including members of the Greenhouse, Family Support Council, Department of Family and Children’s Services, and the Dalton Police Department. One witness also testified concerning the Darkness to Light training that is done locally by the Family Support Council in order to educate people on child abuse.  Prosecutor Kenemer was assisted at trial by supervisor Heather Gates of DFCS who oversaw the investigation in Whitfield County Juvenile Court.  Two additional witnesses were expected to testify Thursday afternoon with jury deliberations expected to begin Friday. Sally Garcia is the third person to plead guilty to molesting the same victim.  Her husband, James Steven Garcia, 46, entered a guilty plea on Nov. 5 and was sentenced to 35 years with the first 20 to be served in confinement.   James Garcia entered his plea prior to any jury being selected in his case. Prior to that, on Aug. 10, Faye Michelle Smith, 41, entered a guilty plea and agreed to testify against James Garcia if his case went to trial. Ms. Smith received a sentence of 20 years with the first seven to be served in prison.  Neither James Garcia nor Ms. Smith were scheduled to testify against Sally Garcia during the trial this week. All three adults knew about and actively participated in sexual abusing the child to varying degrees, prosecutors said. District Attorney Bert Poston sad, “Fifteen jurors were initially selected on the case including three alternates.  One juror became ill after hearing testimony in the case and was excused with one of the alternates seated.  Two of the jurors went above and beyond after the plea and sentencing.  Persuaded by the importance of the Darkness to Light training program in our community, they donated their juror pay to the Family Support Counsel to help fund the program.  Jurors are paid $25 per day for their service so the two jurors donated a total of $200 to the program.” Prosecutor Kenemer said he “wished to point out the numerous agencies involved in the prosecution of this case and thanked all the agencies for a team effort in making sure that justice was served.  “Many people in this case doggedly pushed for this case to be brought forward and did not rest until this case was brought to court.  Their efforts certainly helped in making sure that this victim received the justice that they definitely deserved.”