PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On September 30, 2022, a Spalding County jury convicted Ronald Wheeler, a 57-year-old man from Griffin, of two counts of Child Molestation. The Honorable Scott Ballard sentenced the defendant to 20 years with the first 15 years to be served in prison. Assistant District Attorney Holly MacDonald and Senior Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Lenhard tried the case for the State.
Wheeler was arrested in 2018 after allegations of inappropriate touching to a 7-year-old family member. The investigation started in North Georgia and was transferred to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office upon realization that the molestation occurred within Spalding County.
“My thanks to Holly and Kate for their faith in this brave victim.” District Attorney Broder said of the case. “My offices will continue to aggressively pursue those that harm children.”
On Tuesday, September 20, 2022, after a jury had been selected and seated, Lydell Eugene Holmes, a 39-year-old man from Williamson, entered a non-negotiated plea of guilty plea in front of the Honorable Ben J. Miller in the Pike County Superior Court. Defendant Holmes pled guilty to the charges of Kidnapping, Aggravated Stalking, five counts of Aggravated Assault (family violence), four counts of Aggravated Battery (family violence), Arson in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree and False Imprisonment. The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Audrey D. Holliday. Judge Miller sentenced the defendant to 80 years with the first 40 years to be served in prison. The Pike County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case.
The case stemmed from Lydell E. Holmes kidnapping his girlfriend at knife point while she slept in her residence. Over the course of approximately ten hours, he drug her down several roads, stabbed her multiple times, buried her under pine straw and dirt, falsely imprisoned her in a homeowner’s newly constructed home’s attic, attempted to stab said homeowner, and set the attic on fire. The female victim suffered four stab wounds to her back, chest and abdomen and was life flighted for emergency help. The victim of the newly constructed home suffered no injuries. The Pike County Sheriff’s Office, along with assistance from a Zebulon Police Officer, spent an hour in the attic attempting to get Lydell Holmes to release the female victim and to put the fire out. Deputies were able to get the fire out with assistance from the homeowner, who was able to connect together three water hoses, and were eventually able to convince Holmes to put the knife down and release his victim. The incident was captured on Sheriff’s Office dash cameras.
“Preparing for this trial was a real team effort, and I am grateful to the members of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, EMS, independent witnesses, the victims, Victim-Advocate/Investigator Sheri Winslett, Investigator Rick Reeves, and Anita Rodriguez of the District Attorney’s Office for all their hard work and long hours preparing this case for trial.” ADA Holliday stated. She continued by stating, “this community cannot tolerate the actions of individuals like Lydell Holmes, and I believe that once the jury heard the evidence they would have told him the same thing. I believe this is why he finally decided to enter a non-negotiated plea. We must continue to work together in the Griffin Judicial Circuit to bring awareness to domestic violence, to partner with resource providers, to support victims as they regain control of their lives, and for each one of us to stand up and speak up to stop intimate partner and family violence.”
“I echo the sentiments of ADA Holliday. This was a case of truly horrific domestic violence acts against the victim,” District Attorney Marie Broder said of the crime. “I am so proud of my team on this case, and my offices will continue to partner with law enforcement and our community partners to ensure that those that perpetrate domestic violence are held responsible for their violent acts.”
District Attorney Marie Broder and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ashton Fallin were presenters at the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia 2022 Investigator's Conference held this past week. Griffin Judicial Circuit Investigators Rick Reeves, Rob Hullett and Andrew Lerner attended the Conference.
The Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office officially welcomed our newest Investigator to the agency in a swearing-in ceremony today. Superior Court Judge W. Fletcher Sams administered the oath to Investigator Andrew Lerner.
Investigator Lerner is assigned to the Fayette County District Attorney Office. Welcome to our team!