David Randy Sabby stood motionless, staring at the jury at times and at others hanging his head, as the verdict on each of the six counts was read.
The 49-year-old former airline pilot was accused of illegal sexual acts with his stepdaughter while the family lived in Villa Rica in 2006 and 2007. Sabby was convicted of two counts of aggravated child molestation, two counts of child molestation, one count of incest and one count of statutory rape.
Sabby could face a very long stay in prison — aggravated child molestation carries up to a 30-year prison sentence. No date was set Thursday for a sentencing hearing, but Sabby must be returned in a few weeks to Minnesota, where he is serving time on a similar conviction.
As Sabby was led out of the court following the announcement, investigators and friends of the victim congratulated Assistant District Attorney Tom Kegley. The victim, who had been in the courtroom on the front row throughout the trial, had returned to Minnesota Wednesday night and was not present for the ruling.
“The jury did a magnificent job weighing the evidence and coming to a decision in a very difficult case,” Kegley said. “That decision brings justice for the victim. Her childhood was taken from her by the defendant and now he must pay the price for these despicable acts.”
Sabby previously entered a guilty plea on a charge of criminal sexual conduct and is currently serving 144 months in Grant and Otter Tail counties in Minnesota, but was extradited to Douglas County in April to face local charges.
Those charges obviously played significantly in the minds of jurors. After indicating Wednesday that they had reached a decision on three counts, before beginning deliberations Thursday, they asked for the legal definitions of what he pleaded guilty to in Minnesota.
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After Judge Robert James ruled they were entitled to the legal definitions only, the jury took less than 20 minutes to return the guilty verdicts.
“It showed they were an inquisitive jury and that they had some questions, even this morning,” Sabby’s attorney Ed Napier said. “I’m thankful that we have a jury system and that we had a jury that took their responsibility as seriously as they did in this case. Obviously we are disappointed, but I respect the decision that the jury made.”
After the verdicts were read, Napier asked that the jury be polled. James did so and each juror affirmed the verdict.
The jury had asked to watch a videotaped interview with the stepdaughter from Oct. 18, 2009, on Wednesday. The accuser had been brought back to Villa Rica to answer questions about possible acts that happened here, after investigators in Minnesota learned that abuse there may have also occurred in Georgia. They viewed the entire tape that lasted for an hour and a half early Wednesday before resuming deliberations.
In the trial, the jury heard from the stepdaughter, now 20 years old, who testified that she was sexually abused “as long as I can remember,” recounting instances where she had to “earn” items like a party dress, by being forced to have sex with Sabby. The details were graphic and the victim told one investigator that there were “at least 100” encounters with Sabby.
In his closing, Kegley said the abuse had forced the victim to “endure a lifetime of sexual abuse, a lifetime of torment. In the process she was robbed of her childhood and he effectively made her his wife.”
Other alleged victims, his ex-wife, family friends and law enforcement officials from Villa Rica and Minnesota were also called as prosecution witnesses.
From jury selection to verdict, the trial for Sabby lasted nine days. In all, the jury deliberated for nearly 12 full hours.