Around 5:29 AM on May 24, 2018 a 911 call was received from a distraught female saying she was being assaulted by her husband and she had just shot him. Bowie County deputies dispatched to this shooting found a deceased male lying on the floor of the home when they arrived. Deputies spoke with the female caller who was still at this residence in the 100 block of Parkway. She introduced herself as Tonya Barnett and told deputies the deceased male was her boyfriend Cecil Ellis Jr. According to Ms. Barnett, Mr. Ellis choked her to the point that she passed out while he was assaulting her. She picked up a handgun to protect herself when she regained consciousness. Mr. Ellis continued his assault of Ms. Barnett and was shot during the confrontation. It was obvious to the deputies who arrived on the scene that Mr. Ellis had succumbed to his injuries prior to their arrival. Judge Nancy Talley ordered Mr. Ellis’ body be sent off for an autopsy. The results of this autopsy are pending. Ms. Barnett sought medical evaluation and treatment for injuries she received during this assault. She was treated and released by a doctor. Ms. Barnett has been fully cooperative with investigators during this investigation. No arrests have been as Ms. Barnett’s statement to investigators indicates this could be a case of self-defense. The investigation into Mr. Ellis’ death is active and ongoing.
Ms. Barnett was interviewed by Investigator Scott Sartor on June 5, 2018 after new information pertaining to this case was brought to light. During this course of this interview, Ms. Barnett changed her version of events from the original information she had provided investigators with. The details she gave led to her being arrested for Manslaughter. She was booked into the Bi-State Jail and her bond was set at $20,000.00 by Judge Al Smith.