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Teton County rape case gets new charge, heads to trial

Driggs

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Ryan Richard Berry

DRIGGS — A rape case that has been working through the Teton County courts for more than three years now has earned a new felony charge as recently elected Teton County Prosecutor Bailey Smith prepares to take the case to a jury trial in May.

Tetonia resident Ryan Richard Berry, 41, was arrested and charged with felony rape in February 2018 along with a handful of other charges including false imprisonment, battery and providing alcohol to a minor.

He pled not guilty to the charges and posted a $50,000 bond in 2018. Berry waived his right to a speedy trial and filed a motion to disqualify former District Court Judge Gregory Moeller in 2018. The case has slowly worked its way through the legal system with former Teton County prosecuting attorney Billie Siddoway trying unsuccessfully to come to several different plea agreements with the defendant.

After a jury trial was set in 2020, the COVID -19 pandemic further delayed the case from moving forward. Inheriting the case after taking office in 2021, Smith reinstated multiple felony and misdemeanor charges against the defendant this February. The seven-count charging document now alleges that Berry committed rape, voyeurism, false imprisonment, two counts of battery, theft and providing alcohol to a minor.

Recently, as District Court Judge Steven Boyce was setting a jury trial for the end of May, Smith opted to add one more charge to the docket. According to a news release from the prosecutor’s office, Smith filed the new felony charge alleging that Berry destroyed or attempted to destroy evidence of a rape and video voyeurism.

The prosecutor’s office is alleging that Berry, “willfully destroyed or attempted to destroy fingerprint evidence, DNA evidence and/or chemical evidence,” in an effort to conceal alleged crimes against the victim.

The criminal complaint further alleges that Berry took these actions, “knowing that the evidence was about to be discovered in a felony investigation authorized by law and used as evidence in a criminal trial or proceeding against him, and with the intent to prevent the evidence from being so discovered or used.”

His original charges were for allegedly engaging in sexual intercourse with an unconscious woman, allegedly taking sexual photos or videos of the woman without her consent, and allegedly touching the woman in a forceful and sexual way without consent and despite her objections. Berry also allegedly prevented the victim from retrieving her undergarments or leaving his residence.

The charges in the new criminal complaint carry a maximum total sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The seven-count charges carry a maximum total sentence of life in prison and $109,000 in fines. If Berry is convicted, the sentence will be determined by the presiding judge.

The trial begins May 24 at the Teton County Courthouse.

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