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Tonya M. FORD





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Domestic violence
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 10, 2009
Date of arrest: October 20, 2010
Date of birth: 1983
Victim profile: Her husband, David M. Ford, 40 (Lebanon City police officer)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky, USA
Status: Sentenced to 20 years in prison on September 18, 2012
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Woman Sentenced To 20 Years In Death Of Police Officer Husband

September 18, 2012

A Taylor County woman convicted of killing her police officer husband was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the case Tuesday.

Police say Tonya Ford shot and killed her husband, Lebanon Police officer David Ford, back in 2009. She was convicted in the death late last month.

Ford was found guilty of first-degree murder, and the jury recommended a sentence of 20 years with the possibility of parole after serving 17 years.


Jury convicts Tonya Ford of killing husband; recommends 20 years in prison

By Calen McKinney -

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Her family responds, "We love you, Tonya," as she is escorted by a security officer to the Taylor County Detention Center. And now, she will wait in her cell until she finds out how long she will spend in prison.

Just minutes after being found guilty of murdering her husband, Tonya Ford huddled with her family members in a private room as they cried together.

As the verdict is read, Ford, dressed in black as she had for the past five days, cries and shouts, "Oh, my God."

The jury announced its decision at 11:08 on Friday morning, after deliberating for nearly 12 hours.

Jurors began deliberating at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. After not being able to reach a unanimous decision by 8 p.m., Taylor Circuit Court Judge Dan Kelly ordered that the four men and eight women be sequestered in a local hotel with no television, phone or Internet access.

When instructing jurors, Kelly told them that they have to find Ford guilty if they believe she killed Lebanon Police Officer David Ford or helped someone who killed him.

After rendering their verdict, jurors went back to their deliberation room to decide how many years they recommend that Ford spend in prison for the crime they agreed she committed. It took them five minutes to recommend 20.

Murder is a Class A felony, punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Ford's attorney, Danny Butler, asked jurors to consider the lesser penalty.

The prosecutor, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Miller, said he didn't want to offer a recommendation.

"Do what you think is right under the circumstances," he said.

Kelly will sentence Ford on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Judges don't have to render the sentence a jury recommends, though they typically do.

Since murder is a violent crime, Ford will serve 85 percent of her sentence before being eligible for parole.

If sentenced to the recommended 20 years, Ford, 39, will be eligible to meet a parole board in 17 years. She would be 56.

The 85-percent rule caps at spending 20 years in prison, which means, even if Ford was sentenced to life, she would be eligible for parole after she spends 20 years behind bars.

As Butler and Miller spoke to jurors about the sentence Ford could receive, she buried her head in her hands and cried.

After Kelly read the jury's recommended sentence, Butler said he is "bitterly disappointed" with the verdict and will appeal Ford's sentence. He said he doesn't know what swayed the jury.

"I wish I knew," he said. "I had no idea."

Deliberating for more than 11 hours, Butler said, seems to indicate that jurors had a hard time convicting Ford.

"It's not a very pleasant time," he said, before going to talk to Ford.

After Ford was taken to the detention center, Miller said he believes jurors considered all the evidence in the case closely, without letting their emotions overwhelm them.

"I thought that the proof came in well and the jury really considered the evidence and made a very difficult decision," Miller said. "I think this just shows that the system does work as it was designed to work, and I'm pleased that it does. Pleased to be part of the system."

Miller said the case against Ford involved a lot of circumstantial evidence, and the prosecution's job was to make sure it was presented clearly so jurors could understand it.

Miller applauded the jury for being able to set emotions aside and said credit also goes to Kentucky State Police Detective Israel Slinker, who investigated the case, for making sure it was a strong one.

Ford was accused of shooting and killing her husband, David Ford, on Feb. 10, 2009. She pleaded not guilty in November 2010.

Officer Ford, 40, was found shot to death in the head at his Graham Road home in Campbellsville. Ford called the Campbellsville/Taylor County E-911 Center and said she had arrived at the home and found that her husband had been shot.

Taylor County Coroner Terry Dabney said in 2009 that an autopsy confirmed Officer Ford's death as a homicide.

A year and a half after Officer Ford's death, on Oct. 19, 2010, a Taylor County grand jury convened in special session to hear from 17 witnesses and then issued an indictment charging Ford with murder. She was arrested at 9:52 a.m. the following day at the Taylor County Courthouse.

She was released from the Taylor County Detention Center on Nov. 9, 2010, after family members posted a $30,000 cash bond. She has remained free on bond since.

Ford's trial began Aug. 20, three and a half years after Officer Ford's death. The date was Ford's sixth trial date.


Danny and Sondra Gilbert, two of Ford's neighbors, testified that she came to their Graham Road home to use the restroom while law enforcement secured the crime scene at her home. They said Ford closed the door, which she denies.

The prosecution argued that Ford had washed her hands after being asked not to in an attempt to get rid of any gun shot residue on them. A test for the residue, taken several hours after Ford found her husband, was negative.

Mike Viergutz, a KSP computer examiner, testified that the last activity on the Fords' computer was at 11:16 a.m. when Officer Ford typed He said the computer was unplugged at about 6 p.m. and has had no activity since. The prosecution argued that since there was no other activity, Officer Ford was shot right after typing the web address.

Taylor County Coroner Terry Dabney testified that he estimated that Officer Ford's time of death was 12:30 p.m. The prosecution argued that it was about 11:17 a.m.

Taylor County Sheriff's Detective Brian Pickard testified that, when on the scene of Officer Ford's death, he spoke with Ford while sitting in his vehicle. He said Ford agreed to take a gunshot residue test and agreed to not wash her hands until taking that test.

After Ford used the restroom at the Gilberts' home, Pickard said, he noticed that she no longer had mud on her hands. Ford was then taken to Campbellsville Police Department for an interview with Slinker and he performed the test.

Brandon Blair, a law enforcement officer who worked with Officer Ford at Lebanon Police Department, testified that they were friends. Blair said Officer Ford told him that he had received anonymous notes that were threatening and made him paranoid. He said Officer Ford also believed he was being followed. When information shared between only Blair, Ford and Officer Ford appeared in the notes, Blair said, he began to believe that Ford had been writing the notes. One of Ford's fingerprints was found on one of the notes near where Officer Ford's body was found.

Blair said he believes that no one had a vendetta against Officer Ford and said he was very well liked, even by those he had arrested.

Jerome McNear, an AT&T representative, testified that Ford received a cell phone call at 10:59 a.m. from Officer Ford that connected with a cell phone tower sector near her Graham Road home. The same was true for a call at 11:20 a.m.

He testified that phone records state Ford couldn't have been in Campbellsville, as she said she was, at 10:59 a.m. or 11:20 a.m.

When answering a question from Butler, McNear said a person could be crossing into another cell phone sector and pick up one close to their location, but only if they are where the two sectors border each other. He said the 10:59 and 11:20 a.m. calls, however, came from a sector that doesn't border with where she says she was at the time.

Louisville Medical Examiner and Jefferson County Coroner Barbara Weakley-Jones testified that she would have to be fairly close to a body to know if someone had suffered a gunshot wound.

When calling 911, Ford said her husband had been shot, but also said she didn't go close to his body after seeing him on the floor in a pool of blood.

Ashley Simpson, Ford's half-sister, testified that she worked with Ford at Sonic and saw her on Feb. 10, 2009. She said that conversation happened between 10:55 and 11:05 a.m. and she bases those times on who was working that day and when some employees arrived for work at 11 a.m.

When being cross-examined, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Angela Call, who also prosecuted Ford, asked Simpson if she believes cell phone records putting Ford in the area of her home at 11:20 a.m. are wrong. Simpson said she believes they are.

Call asked if Simpson remembers saying that if someone had been shot at the Ford home, either Ford shot Officer Ford or Officer Ford shot Ford. Simpson said she doesn't remember saying that.

Denisa Beckley, a manager at Sonic, testified that she, too, saw Ford at Sonic at between 10:55 and 11:10 a.m. Beckley, whose son was formerly married to Simpson, said she isn't sure why cell phone records would say Ford wasn't in Campbellsville during that time.

Several of Ford's family members testified and said she is a good mother. Two of her children testified and said they have close relationships with her.

Austin Ford, Officer Ford's son, testified that he and his mother spend as much time together as possible, and that he loves both his mother and father. He said he wants nothing to do with his father's family, however.

"They treat my mom like that, they're not my family," he said.

Opening Statement

In his opening statement, made after the prosecution rested just after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Butler said the timeline of the events on Feb. 10, 2009, came not from evidence, but from Slinker's imaginative mind.

He said he will produce witnesses that say Ford was at Sonic from 10:55 a.m. to about 11:10 a.m. and not at her home on Graham Road shooting her husband.

"Based on their testimony, [there is] no way, shape or form that Tonya Ford could have been at the home."

Butler said Officer Ford's death was tragic.

"Tonya went through a terrible experience," he said.

"There's absolutely zero proof that Tonya Ford had anything whatsoever to do with the killing of her husband," he said.

The defense rested its case at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday, just two hours after Butler began presenting Ford's defense.

Closing Statements

In his closing statement, Butler said the case against Ford is not based on evidence.

"Their whole case is based upon the very vivid imagination of Detective Slinker and upon cell phone towers. Not upon witnesses."

He said if they have any doubt that Ford is guilty, they have to find her not guilty.

"Ask yourself what evidence did the Commonwealth put on that says that Tonya Ford killed her husband David Ford. Absolutely zero, zero evidence."

Butler said Slinker completely disregarded testimony that put Ford at Sonic at about 11 a.m. that day, because it didn't fit his timeline of events.

"There's absolutely zero, zero evidence that places Tonya Ford in that residence," he said. "None."

Butler said Slinker was obviously feeling pressure to find someone to blame for Officer Ford's death, especially because he was a police officer.

"It was tragic David Ford's life was cut short at a young age," he said. "There's another tragedy in this matter. This young lady over here has been accused of killing her husband."

Butler said Ford cooperated with police and was interviewed twice on the day her husband was killed.

He said Slinker didn't interview the husband of the woman Officer Ford was dating, but accepted timecard records to rule him out as a suspect. Slinker wouldn't use timecard records to accept that Ford was at Sonic at about 11 a.m., however.

Butler said cell phone tower sectors can overlap, and that the prosecution can't say that Ford was home simply because her cell phone says she was in the area.

"You want to send a person to the penitentiary for killing her husband based on a cell phone tower location? What does that have to do with anything? Does that put her in the house? No."

Butler said Ford was criticized for not going to Officer Ford when she saw him. He asked if there is a specific way a person should react in that situation. He said Ford was hysterical, as jurors heard on the 911 tape.

"Now, you tell me, how was Tonya Ford acting? She was tore all to hell," he said. "I submit to you that there's not an Academy Award winning actor that could put that on. I think that tape tells it all."

Butler said Ford's mother, Linda Williams, told the prosecution a lie when she said Ford called and confessed to killing her husband. He said Williams admitted that in court.

He said there are two tragedies in this scenario - one being that Officer Ford was killed and the other that Ford was charged.

"An innocent person was charged," he said. "Two tragedies don't make a right."

In his closing argument, Miller said that it's poetic that the trial took place in Taylor County's justice center.

"This is the place where people get justice," he said. " ... The Ford family has been waiting three years to get justice.

"Today is the day for consequences for the defendant's actions, where the rubber meets the road."

Miller compared the Ford case to a puzzle and said Butler is trying to scatter the pieces so the jury can't see the true picture.

He said if there is any evidence to contradict the items in Slinker's timeline of events, Butler would have provided it.

"This case is an emotional case. I can't imagine what they've gone through," he said. "Your job is to ... base your decision on evidence, not emotion."

Miller said that Butler said jurors would be taking a mother away from her children if they find Ford guilty.

"Ladies and gentlemen, as unfortunate as that would be, there are consequences to your actions."

He said there are records that show where Ford was on the day of the murder. He said if jurors believe cell phone records are voodoo science, they must believe technology doesn't exist. Records are objective, he said, and prove facts that Ford can't run from.

He said records put Ford in the area of her home at 10:59 and 11:20 a.m. He said Ford calling her sister at 11:20 a.m. was a crucial mistake.

"This isn't an imaginary timeline. Detective Slinker put facts on here that he could substantiate.

"We know for a fact that cell phone towers are not imaginative. We can see them."

He said jurors heard from a co-worker of Ford's who said he heard her say she would kill Officer Ford if she thought she could get away with it and feel no remorse.

Miller said jurors know that Ford is a liar. He said she lied about making a tax appointment for her and her husband, which Officer Ford came from Lebanon to Campbellsville for, and where she was at 11 a.m. the day of the murder.

"Who had motive to kill David Ford? Well, certainly the defendant did."

Miller said Officer Ford would have only been inside his home with someone he trusted and not been surprised when they walked behind him.

Miller asked who would go inside a home and find their spouse on the floor in a pool of blood and not go to them to see if they are OK.

"What wife would do that?" he said. "That's not reasonable, guys."

Miller said Ford seemed fine when being interviewed by police just two hours after finding her husband, not like the hysterical person on the 911 call.

Miller said a piece or two might be missing from the puzzle that is the Ford case.

"If you have enough to tell you what it is, you need to convict.

"Base your decisions on evidence, not on the emotion," Miller said. "There is enough there to convict. And we submit that you do that.

"She may be a good mom. That doesn't mean she didn't kill her husband.

"In honor of David Ford, do not be persuaded and cave."

National Attention

Tonya Ford's murder trial got national attention, with a producer from a crime documentary television show filming her trial all last week.

A Jupiter Entertainment producer filmed the trial for a possible episode of the show "Snapped," which airs on the Oxygen channel.

"Snapped" documents the stories of law-abiding women who have been charged with committing murder.

According to the show's website, about 16,000 people are murdered in the United States and 7 percent of the killers are women.


Family of police officer allegedly murdered by wife says they had rough marriage

By Anna Prendergast -

October 20, 2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A woman was put in jail Wednesday on charges of murdering her husband nearly two years after he was killed. Police say they have new evidence that shows Lebanon, Ky. police officer David Ford was murdered by his own wife. Tonya Ford is in the Taylor County Detention Center and we asked her for an interview, but she declined.

However, David Ford’s family is talking and they say they are not shocked and say the couple had a rocky marriage. Darrell Ford, David's brother, says “They were getting a divorce and he was supposed to file the next week. David had moved out three weeks prior.” David Ford's family say they are relieved someone is behind bars and charged with his murder, but the fact that the person is David’s wife has put a strain on the family.

Tonya Ford helped raise David's three sons and the couple had one child together. In February of 2009 police say Tonya Ford called 911 and told them she found David dead in their home in Campbellsville, Ky. Police say he was shot in the back of the head. Since then Kentucky State Police have interviewed 17 key witnesses and say they found evidence that led them to Tonya.

There's a memorial outside of the Lebanon Police Department in honor of David Ford where he was an officer there for three years. David's family says Wednesday was hopefully the start to some kind of closure, but having someone who was once part of the family charged with his death is hard to take.

David's family would not go into specifics about the couple's rocky marriage, but they say it will all come out during Tonya’s trial.


Wife charged in Ky. officer's death

By The Associated Press -

October 20, 2010

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- State troopers have made an arrest in the fatal shooting of a central Kentucky police officer.

A news release from state police says the officer's wife, 37-year-old Tonya M. Ford of Campbellsville, was arrested Wednesday at the Taylor County courthouse after being indicted the previous day on a charge of murder-domestic violence.

Ford had reported finding her husband, 40-year-old David M. Ford, dead last year at their home in Taylor County. David Ford had been with the Lebanon police force in neighboring Marion County for 3 1/2 years.

Police say a Taylor County grand jury handed down the indictment Tuesday after listening to testimony from 17 witnesses.

Court records show Tonya Ford is due to be arraigned on Nov. 1. Her attorney, Danny Butler, did not immediately return a phone message.


Lebanon City police officer found shot, killed at his home

August 15, 2009

(WHAS11) -A Lebanon City police officer is dead, and authorities are calling it a homicide.

Kentucky State Police say that 40-year-old David M. Ford was found dead by his wife at his home in Taylor County.

Police say that he was shot and pronounced dead at the scene.

Ford had been with the Lebanon police force in neighboring Marion County for over three years.



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