LOVINGSTON — An Arrington man will spend a decade behind bars for his involvement in a Shipman woman’s death, a Nelson County judge ordered Wednesday, bringing to a close an investigation that stretched nearly 2½ years.
In Nelson County Circuit Court, Judge Michael Garrett found Timothy Tyson Ramsey, 29, guilty of felony homicide and possession of methamphetamine following Ramsey’s pleas of no contest.
Charges stemmed from an incident in May 2016, when Samantha Rena Tyree was found dead of a methamphetamine overdose in the Massies Mill area.
Ramsey entered the no contest pleas to the two charges as well as three other unrelated felony charges — two weapons charges and an unauthorized use of a vehicle charge for incidents spanning from 2015 to 2017 — as part of a plea agreement.
Pursuant to the agreement, Garrett sentenced Ramsey to 10 years of active prison time on the charges related to Tyree’s death. The three unrelated charges resulted in two years of active prison time, which will be served concurrently with time he’s currently serving on three other charges. Those charges are not related to any of the cases dealt with Wednesday.
“I don’t know how [Tyree’s mother, Hope Grant, is] going to feel,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Erik Laub said after Wednesday’s hearing, “because it’s not my daughter, and it didn’t happen to my family. I hope there’s a sense that there was at least some justice.”
Hope Grant said she preferred not to comment after the hearing.
Also as part of the plea agreement, charges against Ramsey of concealing a dead body, possession with intent to distribute and disposing a dead body on private property related to Tyree’s death were dropped. The Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office also dropped five unrelated charges as part of the agreement.
As part of a long statement of evidence, Laub said had the charges in the Tyree overdose case gone to trial, witnesses would’ve testified Ramsey admitted to using methamphetamine with Tyree, and that Ramsey had admitted to injecting Tyree with meth in the past. Witnesses would’ve testified about statements Ramsey made to them regarding Tyree’s death, as well, Laub said.
Robert Goad III, Ramsey’s attorney, said had the cases gone to trial he would’ve disputed the credibility of witnesses, qualifying many of them as convicted felons who also had admitted to using meth. Additionally, Goad said he would have argued there are no definite causal, time and place links between Ramsey and Tyree to prove he killed Tyree.
Goad added in spite of Ramsey’s defense options, the plea agreement is “in everyone’s best interest.”
Laub and the Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office inherited the case of Tyree’s death from the previous prosecutor, Jerry Gress, several months after the incident occurred, Laub said after the hearing.
“I just remember, I looked at the picture of her in the river [where her body was found May 12, 2016] and said, ‘All right, I can’t let this go,’” Laub said.
Laub added later his “good-faith belief” is Ramsey wouldn’t have wanted to kill her.
“We’re never gonna really know the answer to that question, but I believe it was an accident,” Laub said, saying he thinks Ramsey’s drug use was a contributing factor.
Laub credited Nelson sheriff’s Investigator Jeremy Tabler and the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office for being able to wrap up the case with a homicide conviction. According to Nelson County Sheriff David Hill, members of his office interviewed at least 40 people over the past 2½ years as part of the case.
“It took … years of extremely hard investigative work,” Laub said, “and without that, I wouldn’t have been able to prosecute anything.”
Miranda Sue Harris also was charged in the case, ultimately pleading guilty to felony possession and distribution of methamphetamine for her role.
“I don’t think there was [justice] with what happened with Miranda Harris, but I feel like there can be here,” Laub said, referring to the fact felony homicide and other charges against Harris were dismissed based on complicated legal precedent.
“I genuinely think that Timmy had much more of a role than Miranda did, so it makes sense that it shook out this way. … I think [the plea agreement is] a good compromise. … This gives, I hope, to the family some justice to say this happened, we didn’t let it [go]. There was a conviction, and there is some time that [he has] to serve.”