This became one of those cases in which I attempted to search deeper for things I wanted some answers to before coming here and putting things together. If you are a regular reader than you know I do not always agree with a verdict, although I respect a jury's decision. I have also often began composing a case in which I am uncertain how I feel about it. Many times I am still on the fence as far as things after I have put it all together. There are also the cases where I openly state I have questions about or issues where things did not seem clear. That is not necessarily the case here. This was a case where the specific facts were thin. I was able to find an appeal on record but it only gave me a few more specifics that I did not have. I was actually taken aback by not just how much little information it provided but the language in which was used. In general most appeals are very “bland” in their words which is fine because they should be in my opinion. An appeal is all about finding and looking at the facts of a case and applying the law and when they use words like “vengeful” such as this one did it shows a bias that I believe has no room in the law. At any rate let's get on with the story and see what you think.
On February 10, 2009 Tonya Ford, from Campbellsville Kentucky called 9-1-1 and reported that her husband had been shot. The fact that she told the operator the cause of her husband's injury while saying she did not get very close to his body and only saw a pool of blood was brought up in her later trial. The medical examiner would claim that no one could have known David Ford was shot unless they had gotten up close to him. It appeared that David had been sitting at his computer at the time of his death and had been shot in the back of the head. I did not find anything that indicated the location or more specifically the position of his body. I would agree with the medical examiner if David was found on his back unless there was an exit wound but possibly not if he was on his stomach. I think this is important to know but I was unable to find out.
David was a police officer in the next county over in the town of Lebanon Kentucky. He had been with the department for about three and a half years. David had three sons from a previous marriage and then he and Tonya had one son together. I could not determine just when the two had married but I got the strong impression that their son was at the very least in his late teens so it would indicate the couple had been together close to twenty years. If anyone has more specific information that would be great. Regardless of how long the couple had been together, by February of 2009 they were not longer living together.
Throughout all the articles that I had found on the case the most I could gander through them was his family was claiming that the couple had a “rocky” marriage and that David had planned to file for divorce the following week. There was also indication through articles that David had a girlfriend, who herself was apparently also still married. The defense in Tonya's later trial would argue that investigators did not look deep into the girlfriend's husband or even interview him. This was one of the issues that the appeal happened to help. The appeal stated that David's girlfriends name was Mary Ramos and that David was actually living with her at the time of his death. It also stated that Tonya was in the process of looking for an apartment to move into and out of the family home. There was nothing in anything that I read that indicated why David was at the home the couple shared at that time or what had brought him there.
Of course as is the case in all murder cases investigators want to talk to those closest to the victim and obviously in this case it was Tonya. Not only was she the spouse, estranged or not, but she was also the person to find his body. An officer would say at her trial that he had indicated to her that she should not wash her hands until they were able to do a gunshot residue test. He also indicted on the stand that she may have had “mud” on her hands when she was first interviewed but other than this cursory comment there was nothing more on this that I could find. There became an argument later however about the issue of her hands. While investigators had sealed off her home as a crime scene Tonya had gone to a neighbors house to use the bathroom. The neighbors would say that she went in there and closed the door and she apparently did wash her hands after using the bathroom. Investigators would argue that she had done this on purpose so that when the GSR test was done it would have a negative result, in which it did. Now, I am unsure why there was an argument over whether Tonya had gone into the bathroom and shut the door or not, but apparently there was. The neighbors stated that she did close the door and it appears that at least in the article it was indicated to be some sort of indication of guilt and yet Tonya had supposedly argued that she had not closed the door. I would think that especially being at a neighbors home and using the bathroom that she would close the door, as any of us would, and unless she was under arrested and escorted there by a police officer she was entitled to her privacy. As far as the washing of her hands after using the bathroom, sure it could have been in an attempt to remove GSR, and I realize she was asked not to wash her hands, but washing your hands after using the bathroom is generally a simple act of habit.
Over the course of the next year and a half Tonya would be interviewed several times. It would be said that through the interviews she had “revealed evidence implicating her as the shooter.” What that evidence was is anyone's guess at this point. At any rate a grand jury indicted Tonya in the murder of her husband on October 19, 2010 and she was arrested for the murder of her husband on the following day.
At her trial the prosecution obviously argued that Tonya had shot and killed her husband. They argued that while the ME had estimated his time of death at about 12:30 pm they believed they had an exact time..... 11:17 am. They based this on the fact that it appeared that at 11:16 David had entered a web address into the computer and nothing was done after that. The fact that eh was apparently found near the computer indicated that he was shot just after entering the web address.
Tonya had stated that she was not home that morning. She worked at a local Sonic Drive-In and while it appears that she was likely off work that day her ½ sister, who she worked with, Ashley Simpson testified she saw her between 10:55 am and 11:05 am based on who had come into work that day. It appears that other employees testified to seeing Tonya at this time also. Prosecutors wold argue that according to cell phone records this was not where Tonya was and that her phone was pinging from a tower nearer to their home.
In the same respect the prosecution had a co-worker of hers to testify that he had heard Tonya state sometime prior to the murder that she would kill him if she thought she could get away with it and would feel no remorse. A co-worker of David's, Brandon Blair would also testify for the prosecution. He would state that David told him he was receiving anonymous notes that were threatening and thought he was being followed. It does not appear that Blair testified as to who David may have felt that the person was but did testify who, he himself thought it was, Tonya. Her appeal would later say that Blair's implication of Tonya should not have been entered into the court but also stated that they did not feel like it was harmful enough to warrant a reversal of her conviction. Investigators would apparently find one or more of these threatening notes and would say that “one of her prints were one one of the notes found.”
A representative from AT&T testified that at 10:59 Tonya received a phone call from David and that she got another call at 11:20 am. This is where the testimony stated that the tower that her phone “pinged” from was closer to her home, than in town.
One of the biggest things at the trial came in the form of a video that was shown to the jury. At the trial Tonya's mother, Linda Williams, was called to testify. On the stand she stated she had lied to the police previously when she had told them that Tonya had confessed to her. This apparently was not a case in which she denied telling the police this at all, but she admitted lying. In rebutting her testimony the prosecution showed the jury a video of Williams. What is unclear is if the video was of the crime she had committed and/or the interview she gave police after where she told them Tonya had confessed. The video, or at least the crime that lead up to the video, was of Williams doing a drug deal with a confidential informant. This issue was brought up on appeal by Tonya but the courts found that the prosecution was rightfully allowed to enter the video in order to impeach Williams current testimony.
The defense would argue that the entire case was based on the “vivid imagination” of one of the detectives involved and that there was no evidence that Tonya had shot her husband. Despite their efforts after twelve hours of deliberation the jury found Tonya guilty in August of 2012 for the murder of her husband. The sentencing phase would begin and after deliberating a total of five minutes the jury returned with a recommendation of a twenty year sentence. The following month that is what the judge gave her. According to Kentucky law she must serve at least seventeen years of that sentence before being eligible for parole. Her earliest parole date is shown as August of 2029. Her maximum serve time is listed as August of 2032.
This case left me with so many holes that were unfilled that I am unsure how I feel about the case. Other than the fact that obviously the marriage was contentious and divorce filing seemed imminent there seemed to be no real motive. I never saw anything that talked of any sort of life insurance, although presumably he had some through at the very least his work as a police officer. I never even saw so much as any information about the weapon that was used. It was obviously a gun, but I did not hear even what type of caliber, if they had found the weapon or even if they could have linked such a weapon to Tonya Ford. Now, of course this does not mean that there was no evidence of these things presented, it just means for my research I was unable to find anything. The fact that the jury only gave her a sentence of twenty years, and it took so long to come up with the verdict in the first place indicates with me that they had difficulty coming to a decision on her guilt and that possibly the low sentence for murder indicated they possibly compromised some how in their verdict.
The cell phone records are a bit tricky. To be honest it has not been until recently that I have really questioned them a whole lot. But, there have been a few cases that I have done lately that have made me question just how they are determined. A case I did recently talked of cell phone tower records but in that case it was indicated that the tower in which the person's phone had “pinged” from was possibly just the “next tower over” from where the person stated they had been. In this case I am uncertain. We know that if towers are particularly busy then a phone can ping on another nearby tower. But just how accurate is that? Just last night I was commenting to my husband that I found it funny that I have a GPS app on my phone and that although my son was just in the next room, according to the app we were “near” two different addresses. Granted, the two addresses were close (he was at 7145 and I was listed as 7133 on the same road) but how close is close when towers are considered? On a regular city street the distance between us could have been six houses.
As far as the GSR test that had negative results, of course the prosecution argued that she had washed her hands. I do not feel that that point alone was a calculated act on her part. Obviously it was testified that she was asked not to wash her hands but there was no indication just how soon that was from the actual time she did. Not to mention, as I stated above washing ones hands after using the bathroom is often just an automatic habit that one does without thinking. If the GSR test was so important I feel that it should have been done quicker or in a more timely manner. If that was not possible then while yes, I agree it could have violated her freedom rights, she should have been watched more closely.
I also want to know just when the video of her mother conducting the drug deal occurred and just how soon after that incident that an indictment was filed against Tonya. Did she confess to her mother? I do not know, but this was not apparently a casual comment and without knowing her mother, who obviously has a drug issue, or the relationship between the two I am unsure how much weight I give this comment by her. Was it an attempt to falsely implicate her daughter in a murder that investigators may have been wanting to solve in order to save herself legal issues?
The defense had indicated at the trial that Mary Ramos' husband's time card at his work was the only thing looked at to rule him out of being a suspect. Where did he work? Why was he not interviewed as the defense argued? Why was he not a suspect? They also argued that while his time card was looked at none at the Sonic were looked at to determine when people were working.
The one thing that I likely agree with prosecution on is his time of death, if the information I have found is completely accurate. If David Ford's body was found near his computer and all he had done was enter a web address without any other keystrokes after it does indicate that he was shot just after entering the address into the computer.
Were there any unknown prints or DNA in the home? Was it checked? The only forensic information I found pertained to the threatening letters that David had received and it only indicated one print, which belonged to Tonya. I need to know more about this before coming to a conclusion. Were the notes just on regular paper and left for him to find? Were they sent in email and printed off? Did Tonya know about them? One print, if that truly is all that was found, seems a bit of a stretch. First off, the note was apparently found in her home, a home that until recently she had shared with the victim. Had he shown her the note and she touched it? Had it been in a pile of things and she moved it?
As I said in the beginning her and I have said often in the past I respect the justice system and jury decisions whether I agree with them or not. In this case I do not know if I agree because I do not feel I have all of the information that they were presented at trial. I want to know how they came to their conclusion and what information they found the most convincing. I want to know if they have some of the same questions that I do or if they were given the answers.
I can only hope that sometime in the future there is another appeal made in this case and that it will contain more information than the past one has.