Raymond Chambliss looks on during his trial. (File photo)

Raymond Chambliss looks on during his trial. (File photo)

Raymond Chambliss of Forsyth won’t be eligible for parole until he’s 96 years old after a Monroe County jury found him guilty on Wednesday of killing his girlfriend Tonia Herring in 2018.

Jurors found Chambliss guilty of felony murder on Wednesday night after a two-day trial and about three hours of deliberation. Judge Tommy Wilson sentenced Chambliss, now 66, to life in prison with parole. Under Georgia law that means he won’t be eligible for release for 30 years when Chambliss would be 96.

Jurors apparently didn’t buy the argument from Chambliss attorney Dwayne Singleton that Chambliss accidentally discharged his gun while he was trying to pistol whip Herring in his driveway the night of Aug. 3, 2018. A GBI firearms expert testified that tests showed it was possible that Chambliss’ .380 pistol could discharge when dropped. But Monroe County assistant district attorney Elizabeth Presley noted that Chambliss’ gun discharged more than once making it unlikely an accidental firing is what struck Herring in the face and killed her. Presley added that the shot that killed her came from 6-12 inches away, making it unlikely that the gun striking her body made it fire. Presley said there was no searing around the wound indicating the gun wasn’t touching her body when it fired.

Chambliss testified that Herring attacked him with an umbrella. But Presley said that didn’t necessarily help his case.

“Basically he brought a .380 to an umbrella fight,” said Presley.

Chambliss conceded on the stand that when Herring left his home, he could’ve closed the door, locked it and called 911. Instead he pursued her and killed her, said Presley.

Chambliss testified that he thought Herring might mess with his vehicles in his driveway. But Presley said there was no evidence that she did. Chambliss said that he had asked Herring to come back to his home that night because he thought she had taken from marijuana from him earlier in the day. That night as they started arguing, Chambliss testified that he went to his bedroom, got his .380, chambered a round and told her to get out. Chambliss said he fired a warning shot into the ground. However Presley said the evidence showed that Chambliss struck a tree in Herring’s direction. 

Blood tests showed Herring did have alcohol and drugs in her system when she died. Presley said she thinks justice was done.

“It was a terrible incident,” said Presley. “This wasn’t good for the community.”

Presley said she was glad to be back in a courtroom after a year without jury trials in Monroe County.