GLASGOW – A Glasgow woman whose DUI-murder trial was scheduled to start Tuesday morning entered guilty plea for second-degree manslaughter in exchange for a recommendation from the commonwealth for 10-year sentence.
Murder had been added to the initial charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (first offense, with aggravating circumstance), that Lee Ann Tarry was already facing after the death of 24-year-old Shanda N. Shockley of Glasgow that came after a crash at Columbia Avenue and Veterans Outer Loop on Jan. 26, 2018.
At a preliminary hearing the following month, Barren County Sheriff's Office Deputy Joseph Ford testified that an initial alcohol level test of Tarry's was at 0.297. The legal limit in Kentucky is 0.08.
Ford said it was believed both vehicles had been west of the intersection in the right-hand straight-through lane of Columbia Avenue, also identified as U.S. 68-Ky. 80, with Shockley's vehicle stopped and waiting for the light to change, and Tarry's vehicle struck the rear of Shockley's vehicle.
After the impact, both vehicles crossed the intersection and spun approximately 180 degrees, coming to rest facing back toward the direction from which they had come, the deputy said at the hearing.
As Tarry stood at the judge's bench in Barren Circuit Court with her attorney, Steven Romines, between her and Commonwealth's Attorney John Gardner, Circuit Judge John T. Alexander said that it was his understanding that, consultations with her attorney and negotiations with the commonwealth, an agreement had been reached that would remove the need for the trial that would have been starting about that time. She said that was correct.
Alexander swore her in, advised her of the rights she would be waiving, including the right to appeal, upon entering the plea, etc.
He said the commonwealth's offer in exchange for her guilty plea was to amend the murder charge to second-degree manslaughter, a Class C felony as opposed to a capital offense, and the commonwealth would oppose any type of probation. The recommended sentence would be 10 years' imprisonment, $1,000 fine and court costs, Alexander said.
Gardner later said that though murder is a capital offense, this case did not meet the requirements for it to be eligible for the death penalty. A life sentence with parole eligibility after 20 years would have been the maximum possible in this case, he said.
The recommendation for the DUI charge, a Class B misdemeanor, is essentially set out in statute, the judge said, and it would be 30 days in jail, $500 fine, $375 DUI service fee, 90-day suspension of driver's license, a first-offender or 90 days substance or alcohol abuse counseling program and the possibility of community service.
Gardner said later that because it was a misdemeanor, the law requires that those two sentences be served concurrently, or at the same time, so the total would be 10 years, minus any credit for time served.
Tarry has been out of jail since Feb. 5, 2018, on a $1 million surety bond and has had an ankle monitor, during this time, which Gardner has previously opposed and asked again Tuesday for it to be removed, which led to considerable discussion. She gets the same number of days' credit for time served with an ankle monitor, by statute, as she would for days served in jail.
The judge ultimately ruled in favor of keeping it on until final sentencing, which was scheduled for Nov. 18.
Romines left right away with his client. Gardner met with family members of Shockley's and then returned to the courtroom briefly and provided a prewritten statement to members of the media.
“The commonwealth reached this agreement with the defendant after thorough consultation with the victim's family,” the prosecutor had written. “I sat down with the victim's family a few months ago and went over all the possibilities if this case went to trial. I believe there is more than enough evidence to obtain a murder conviction at trial, but it was also possible a jury could return a verdict of manslaughter, second degree, in this case. The family told me after that meeting they wanted a trial, and the Commonwealth was prepared to proceed to trial. However, the family later informed me after further consideration they wanted to resolve the criminal action without going to trial. After they informed me of their desire to have this case resolved, I reached an agreement with the defendant. This is not a perfect outcome, but it is one the victim's family is satisfied with and ensures the defendant accepts responsibility for her actions the evening of Jan. 26, 2018.”
Shockley's family members also have a civil lawsuit pending against Tarry and Glasgow Golf and Country Club, doing business as Glasgow Country Club, where Tarry is reported to have been served alcoholic beverages before the wreck occurred.
The country club has since been sold and has reopened under the new ownership.
••• Original Story •••
A woman indicted for murder after police said she was under the influence of alcohol when involved in a wreck that killed a 24-year-old woman pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to second-degree manslaughter.
The murder trial for Lee Ann Tarry, 49, of Glasgow was slated to begin Tuesday in Barren County. Instead, Tarry pleaded guilty to the reduced charge for the 2018 death of Shanda N. Shockley.
The prosecution has recommended a 10-year sentence with no probation for Tarry. Her final sentencing will be Nov. 18.
According to police reports, Shockley had stopped the 2005 Chevrolet she was driving at the traffic light at Columbia Avenue and Veterans Outer Loop at approximately 10:35 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, when a 2013 Cadillac driven by Tarry struck the rear of the Chevrolet and both vehicles continued through the intersection before coming to a stop.
According to a Barren County Sheriff's deputy's testimony at a preliminary hearing, a test conducted by the hospital showed Tarry's initial blood-alcohol level to be 0.297. The legal limit in Kentucky is 0.08.
••• THIS STORY WILL BE UPDATED •••