Jury finds Tonya Barnett guilty of murder in death C.J. Ellis


NEW BOSTON, Texas: A jury has found a woman who shot a man she was romantically involved with in her Texarkana, Texas, mobile home guilty of murder.

Tonya Ruth Barnett, 42, claimed she shot Cecil “C.J.” Ellis Jr., 35, in self-defense. Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter argued that Barnett was angry at Ellis because he was seeing other women and because he planned to attend a family gathering with the mother of his son.

Carter argued in her closing arguments that Barnett could not have been struggling with Ellis over the firearm or a cell phone as she claimed because of the location and characteristics of the bullet wound. Ellis was shot in the back of his head and the bullet lodged in the front of his brain. The skin around the wound showed no signs of stipling which would be present if Ellis had been fewer than three feet away when she pulled the trigger.

The jury deliberated more than three hours before finding Barnett guilty at about 6 p.m.

The jury is currently hearing testimony in the sentencing phase of Barnett’s trial. She faces five to 99 years or life in prison.

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