Woman Sentenced To 20 Years In Death Of Police
September 18, 2012
A Taylor County woman convicted of killing her
police officer husband was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the case
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 - LebanonEnterprise.com
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
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
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 www.symantec.com. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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 - WHAS11.com
October 20, 2010
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- State troopers have
made an arrest in the fatal shooting of a central Kentucky police
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
Ford had been with the Lebanon police force in
neighboring Marion County for over three years.