A Cherokee County judge sentenced a Canton man to 15 years in prison Wednesday on charges that he attacked his wife and two teenage stepchildren.
A jury convicted Ricky Bernard Harris, 36, on all counts in a family violence case from April 2020, District Attorney Shannon Wallace announced Friday.
Charges included aggravated assault — family violence, two counts of battery — family violence, and four counts of cruelty to children in the third degree.
While his wife was cooking dinner, Harris became aggressive and began repeatedly poking her in the face, according to the district attorney’s office. A physical altercation ensued and the children attempted to intervene. Prosecutors said Harris pushed down his 17-year-old stepdaughter, strangling her by placing both hands on her neck. When his 14-year-old stepson attempted to intervene, Harris punched him in the eye. When he again attempted to go after his 17-year-old stepdaughter, his wife tried to stop him and he punched her repeatedly in the head.
Three other children in the home witnessed the incident, and one of them called 911, the district attorney’s office reported. The children involved ranged in age from 8 to 17.
Prosecutors credited the Cherokee County Domestic Violence Task Force with a November 2019 strangulation training, which the responding Canton officer used to assess the strangulation allegation.
“This was not the first time the defendant lost control with his family, but it was the worst,” said Assistant District Attorney Rachel Ashe, who prosecuted the case. “On this occasion, his anger and need to control were not only focused on his wife, but also his stepchildren, who were placed in a horrible position of having to act as deflectors and defenders of their mother, their siblings and themselves.”
Harris has previously been convicted of family violence, including a conviction in Cherokee County involving his wife and a conviction in Fulton County involving a prior girlfriend who testified during last month’s trial, in which the jury reached a verdict June 23.
Judge Tony Baker sentenced Harris Wednesday to 30 years, with 15 years to serve in prison. As a recidivist, he must serve all 15 years. Upon release, probation conditions include no contact with the victim or the victims’ family.
“Domestic violence is a crime that often occurs behind closed doors, victimizing both adults and children. Thankfully, in this case, a child had the courage to call 911, which effectively ended the cycle of violence,” Wallace said. “Through this guilty verdict and sentence, our hope is that this family is strengthened and able to rise above the trauma they have had to endure.”