As prosecutors and defense attorneys were preparing to argue pretrial motions, a man accused of raping and murdering a mother and daughter 32 years ago admitted he did it, Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds announced.
After accepting the guilty plea, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Reuben Green sentenced Ronald Lee Kyles, now 63, to two life sentences for the 1986 rape and murder of Sharon Brady, 40, and her 13-year-old daughter, Samantha. They were found dead in their apartment two doors away from Kyles’. Left alive was in the apartment Sharon Brady’s youngest daughter, Brandi, then a toddler. She testified to the crime at the hearing.
Marietta attorneys Jill Stahlman and Mitch Durham represented Kyles. They could not be reached immediately for comment.
In 2013, the year after he was first elected district attorney, Reynolds formed a Cold Case Unit within his office and invited the Marietta Police Department as well as all other local law enforcement agencies to participate in a review of unsolved murders and sex crimes. A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice awarded to the Cold Case Unit in 2014 paid for testing of forensic evidence preserved in this case, Reynolds said.
In 2015, DNA tests on evidence collected during the Brady autopsies led to Kyles, Reynolds said. By then, Kyles was in a Pennsylvania prison on an unrelated aggravated assault conviction. Kyles was served in prison with an arrest warrant charging him in the Brady case. Kyles fought extradition but was returned to Georgia in May 2017 after Gov. Nathan Deal and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive agreement on the case, Reynolds said.
“I am very proud of the work done by our Cold Case Unit and Marietta PD,” Reynolds said. “They never forgot about this case and continued to work it until we found the evidence we needed. I am so thankful we were able to secure justice for Sharon and Samantha Brady and some closure for Brandi.”
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans, who prosecuted the case, lauded the investigation originated by Marietta Police Det. Wayne Kennedy in 1986, as well as renewed focus by John Dawes, administrator of the Cold Case Unit in the DA’s office. Kennedy, who is now retired, was among those present at the hearing.
“Sharon and Samantha were sexually assaulted and brutally murdered by this violent serial offender,” Evans said in the DA’s news release. “It’s one of the saddest set of facts I’ve dealt with in my career, but a testament to what can be accomplished when we in law enforcement partner with each other to solve these cold cases—justice delayed, but never forgotten.”