Montezuma man found guilty of rape

A Montezuma man was convicted Wednesday of raping a stranded motorist in 2009.

Ivan Dale Miller, 41, was sentenced to life in prison.

Jurors deliberated for a little more than an hour before returning the guilty verdict. Testimony in his trial began Tuesday.

Miller raped a 47-year-old woman after offering her a ride March 25, 2009, and taking her to an isolated area near Avondale Mill Road.

Although no evidence was presented at trial, the prosecution and defense stipulated that Miller’s DNA was found in the rape kit performed on the woman in 2009.

Both sides also agreed that Miller was tested for HIV in March 2009 and the tests showed he was not infected. The 47-year-old woman testified Tuesday that Miller told her he had AIDS during the assault.

Mark Beberman, Miller’s lawyer, argued the case hinged on the woman’s credibility.

In opening statements, he told the jury the woman had consensual sex with Miller for money and the pair later argued. The woman then called authorities and said Miller raped her.

He also said the woman isn’t a credible witness because she previously was convicted of possession of cocaine and tested positive for drugs at the hospital after the alleged rape.

Beberman said the case also was filled with discrepancies and contradictions.

“The evidence presented to you doesn’t rise to the level of a conviction,” he told the jury during closing arguments. “It does not rise to the level of beyond a doubt.”

Prosecutor Dorothy Hull said no evidence was presented in the trial showing the sex was for money.

“There has been no evidence that (the woman) lied,” she told the jury in her closing arguments.

Hull referenced two other women who testified that Miller assaulted them.

A 29-year-old California woman testified Wednesday morning that Miller honked his horn at her Dec. 22, 2006, and offered her a ride from the Perry Red Lobster to a nearby trailer park where she was staying.

Miller instead took her to an isolated area near Ga. 96 where he raped her, the woman testified.

Ricky Harrell, of Valdosta, testified he was driving on Ga. 96 on Dec. 22, 2006, and saw a woman walking in the middle of the road. The woman wasn’t clothed on her bottom half.

Harrell said he called 911 and drove the woman to the Interstate 75 overpass to wait on Peach County deputies and an ambulance.

The woman testified that she wrapped her coat around her waist because she couldn’t find her pants or underwear after the assault.

A Peach County Sheriff’s Office investigator testified the woman rode with deputies to help find the place where she was assaulted. They found her pants and underwear in an isolated area near Ga. 96.

Although no evidence was presented in the trial, the prosecution and defense stipulated that no male DNA was found in the rape kit for the California woman.

The investigator testified people at Red Lobster identified the man in the truck as “Red,” and a man who frequented the restaurant helped authorities identify “Red” as Miller.

The California woman’s case has not gone to trial.

Also, a 45-year-old Macon woman testified Tuesday and said she also was stranded several years ago. She said Miller offered her a ride and assaulted her in an isolated area near Avondale Mill Road.

Although the woman testified she was forced to disrobe but was not raped, Bibb County sheriff’s Lt. Paul Edwards said she told him when he interviewed her March 27, 2009, that Miller raped her.

Edwards testified the woman told him she didn’t report the incident because she used drugs and was afraid no one would believe her.

The woman admitted Tuesday that she suffers from mental illness and drug problems. She said she feared she could be identifying the wrong man as her attacker.

But Edwards testified Wednesday that the woman appeared coherent when she said in the 2009 interview that Miller raped her.

She didn’t appear to be suffering from mental illness or drug problems, he testified.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398