Jurors decide convicted killer should serve 25 years

An autopsy turned the tables on a case that early on appeared that it could have been self-defense

Jurors decide convicted killer should serve 25 years
CONVICTED: Jurors on Jan. 10 found 40-year-old Tonya Ruth Barnett, of Texarkana, Texas, guilty of murder for fatally shooting 35-year-old man Cecil Ellis Jr. at a residence near Liberty-Eylau, Texas, in May 2018.

BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KSLA) — Jurors just decided that an East Texas woman who killed her reported boyfriend should serve 25 years in prison.

Hours earlier Friday evening, those same panelists convicted 40-year-old Tonya Ruth Barnett, of Texarkana, of murder.

Authorities initially had said that it appeared the fatal shooting of 35-year-old man Cecil Ellis Jr. at a residence near Liberty-Eylau, Texas, was a case of self-defense.

Barnett told investigators that Ellis was assaulting her when she shot him.

However, new information surfaced. An autopsy showed that Ellis had been shot in the back of his head.

Investigators then re-interviewed Barnett. It was then that she “changed her version of events from the original information she had provided investigators with,” authorities said at that time.

She was booked June 5, 2018, on a manslaughter charge.

A grand jury indicted Barnett on a murder charge the following October.

In a packed courtroom Friday, Barnett testified during her trial that Ellis forced himself inside her home early that morning in May 2018.

And she said she did not know when the shot that killed Ellis was fired.

RELATED:

Copyright 2020 KSLA. All rights reserved.