ETX woman charged in boyfriend's death first claimed self-defense

ETX woman charged in boyfriend's death first claimed self-defense

TEXARKANA, TX (KLTV) - A woman who called 911 for help on May 24, saying she was being assaulted, has now been arrested for manslaughter.

Tonya Ruth Barnett, 40, was arrested June 5 and charged with manslaughter in connection with her boyfriend's death.

New information and Barnett's changed story led to the charge, according to Bowie County Sheriff's Office Investigator Scott Sartor.

On May 24, the Bowie County Sheriff's Office said that dispatch received a 911 call from Barnett. Barnett was distraught, they said, and she told the dispatcher she was being assaulted by her significant other and that she had just shot him. 

When deputies arrived, they found a deceased man on the floor. They spoke with Barnett, who deputies say told them the man was her boyfriend, Cecil Ellis, Jr. She told deputies that he had choked her to the point that she passed out during an assault. She said that she then picked up a handgun to protect herself when she regained consciousness. 

Deputies say she told them that Ellis continued his assault of her at that point and that he was shot during the confrontation. They said they could tell that he had died before they arrived. 

Judge Nancy Talley ordered an autopsy to discover the cause of death. Those results are still pending. Barnett has been booked into the Bi-State Jail and her bond has been set at $20,000 by Judge Al Smith.

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