BAUGHMAN GUILTY OF RECKLESS HOMICIDE IN MORGAN COUNTY

After a three-day long trial at the Morgan County Courthouse, a jury returned a verdict in the case involving the October 28, 2016, shooting death of Ellis Ray Hamby by his girlfriend, Tonya Baughman of Harriman.

The jury found Baughman guilty of reckless homicide.

The shooting death of Hamby occurred at the residence of Baughman in the Oakdale community of Morgan County.

The shooting was investigated by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Baughman was originally arrested on a charge of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony in Tennessee. After hearing the case presented, the grand jury increased those charges via an indictment to first-degree murder.

Baughman was first appointed to the Public Defender’s Office. Baughman then hired private counsel, ultimately going through two different defense attorneys until she was represented at trial by Morgan County defense attorney Kit Rodgers. The shuffle of Baughman firing, hiring, firing, and hiring attorneys contributed to the lengthy delay in getting this case to trial.

Judge Jeff Wicks presided over the trial where the State of Tennessee’s prosecution team of Assistant District Attorney Bob Edwards and Assistant District Attorney Jed Bassett sought to show that Baughman premeditated before shooting Hamby multiple times with a shotgun. The State tried to show that Baughman then staged the scene to appear as if Hamby was attacking using a tire tool.

Through the testimony of the medical examiner, Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, the jury was told that any of the four shotgun blasts to Ellis Ray Hamby’s torso would have been fatal. Investigators found a tire tool at the scene tightly gripped in Ellis Ray Hamby’s right hand. Witness proof showed that Hamby was left-handed. Dr. Miluesenic-Polchan explained that any one of the shotgun blasts would have caused Hamby to drop the tire tool upon the impact of either shotgun blast.

The defense followed a theory of self-defense and battered wife syndrome. The defense tried to establish this when Tonya Baughman took the stand to testify in her defense.

During the almost nine hours of deliberation, the jury asked to review a second time both the 911 call from Baughman and Morgan County Sheriff’s Office body camera footage of the crime scene. The jury also asked Judge Wicks to explain to them what ‘unlawfully killed’ means.

After lengthy deliberation, the jury unanimously settled on the Class D felony reckless homicide as a lesser included offense of the indicted charge of first-degree murder.

Baughman is set for sentencing on June 7, 2024.