Man convicted of child molestation, faces up to 20 years in prison

Thomas Rick Barker

A Murray County jury deliberated just 17 minutes Thursday before finding a 53-year-old man guilty of child molestation.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25 for Thomas Rick Barker, formerly of 70 Hawks Way, Chatsworth. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

A jury of nine men and three women was selected on Monday and heard from 10 witnesses including three victims starting on Tuesday morning.

The state’s case was presented by Assistant District Attorney Ben Kenemer with assistance from Special Agent Eric White of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Two of the victims were interviewed at The GreenHouse, a child advocacy center serving Murray and Whitfield counties. Barker was charged in a single count of child molestation related to one of the victims. The other two victims testified pursuant to evidence rules that allow the state to present evidence of other similar or related acts by an offender under certain circumstances and if approved by the court prior to trial.

Barker was represented by Elise Williard and Jack Donlon of the Public Defender’s Office who called two witnesses on his behalf. Barker did not testify.

Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris presided over the trial. Barker had been in custody since his arrest on Oct. 19, 2019, and will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing.

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