Attorneys for a Flowery Branch man sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years will argue Wednesday, May 8, that their client’s impregnation of a 14-year-old girl should not qualify as aggravated child molestation, according to court documents.
Lawrence Daddario, 49, was sentenced to life in prison on charges of aggravated child molestation and second-degree child cruelty. He is appealing his conviction to the Georgia Supreme Court.
“Due to the seriousness of the charges and the evidence presented, (Superior Court) Judge Andrew Fuller sentenced the defendant to a life sentence plus 20 years in prison,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh wrote in an email at the time.
According to the indictment, Daddario in November 2014 isolated three children under the age of 18 and “made them beg for money and food.”
The aggravated child molestation charge is related to his impregnating a girl younger than 16 and causing her to “endure childbirth,” according to the indictment.
Daddario was found guilty after a four-day trial in Fuller’s court, with Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance trying the case.
Fuller sentenced Daddario to life in prison for aggravated child molestation and 10 years each for two second-degree child cruelty cases.
Before the trial, Daddario’s attorneys argued the pregnancy did not fall under the statutory definition of aggravated child molestation and filed for dismissal.
According to the Georgia code, aggravated child molestation is defined as a person commiting “an offense of child molestation which act physically injures the child or involves an act of sodomy.”
A 2015 Georgia Court of Appeals case, Kendrick v. State, had ruled on a similar question regarding “physical injury” and pregnancy.
“It is axiomatic that a full-term pregnancy involves at least some impairment of physical condition, and furthermore, there was evidence in this case that the victim experienced pain during the two-day labor and delivery process. So by the above definitions, the record supports a finding of a physical injury to the victim caused by the molestation,” the Court of Appeals ruled in the Kendrick case.
Daddario will be represented by attorneys from the Hall County Public Defender’s Office. The attorneys wrote in briefs asking the court to overrule on Kendrick and “let the legislature decide whether causing pregnancy should result in significantly enhanced punishment.”
In response, the Hall County District Attorney has said “statutes are not intended to outline every possible method of violating the statute and every possible scenario.”
“The injury and pain associated with the pregnancy and birth is evidence supporting a different and additional element over and above that of child molestation,” the district attorney’s office wrote in briefs.
The justices will hear the case after 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 8.