KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A woman accused of killing her husband in a fit of rage over a text message has pleaded guilty.
Tammy Lynn Talford, 57, of Knoxville pleaded guilty Monday in Knox County Criminal Court to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter. She had faced a second-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of husband, Lawrence “Leon” Talford, 52.
As part of a plea, Tammy Talford was sentenced to 15 years in prison and agreed to turn over the proceeds of life insurance she collected in her husband’s death to his family.
The punishment is at the top of the penalty range for voluntary manslaughter. Because Talford already had a criminal record, she must serve 45% of the 15-year term before she will be eligible for parole.
She initially reported to the Knoxville Police Department that the April 2015 shooting at the couple’s home in the Whittle Springs area was accidental, according to prior testimony in a preliminary hearing in the case. Knoxville police investigator Chas Terry’s testified that Tammy Talford told arriving officers that she and her husband were passing a .38-caliber handgun back and forth, and then gun discharged.
Her husband had suffered a gunshot wound to his upper chest. He later died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
However, under interrogation Tammy Talford admitted that she and her husband were arguing over a text message he sent to another woman. Her husband concluded the text with the words, “I love you,” according to Terry’s prior testimony.
Tammy Talford told the police investigator she retrieved the gun from a nightstand drawer and wound up shooting her husband. In court Monday, she continued to insist she did not intend to kill him.
Members of Leon Talford’s family have disputed the woman’s claims that he was texting another woman.