After autopsy, murder charge filed

Staff Written Law Enforcement

By Patrick Yost


Morgan County authorities charged a Walton County man with murder last Friday in relation to the stabbing death of Jerome Bowden, 58. Tommy Joe Byrd, 55, has been moved from a Walton County Detention Center to the Morgan County Detention Center and remains incarcerated. Byrd initially was charged with tampering with evidence in the Monday, May 4 stabbing.

Byrd’s brother, Tommy Roger Byrd, 56, was reportedly also arrested and charged with tampering with evidence, however, Chief Deputy Keith Howard of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that those charges were incorrect and that Tommy Roger Byrd had been initially arrested and charged with probation violation. Tommy Roger Byrd does not face charges, Howard said, in relation to Bowden’s death.

Howard said the charges came after authorities received results from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) autopsy last Wednesday. Howard said officials were waiting “to see if autopsy results corroborated with witness statements.” 

Howard said Bowden died from a knife wound in the upper back. He said investigators consulted with Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stephen Bradley and Assistant District Attorney Jeff Burkes to determine venue.

“It was determined that he (Bowden) would have only lived up to 30 minutes after receiving this injury,” Howard said.

Authorities allege that around 1:30 a.m. on Monday, May 4, Tommy Joe Byrd and Bowden engaged in an argument on Sandy Creek Road near the Country Store convenience store. The two men were part of six people, Howard said, who had left Walton County in a Honda, traveled to Madison to pick up a rental truck from a motel and were driving back to Walton when the stabbing occurred. The Honda lost control while turning from Bostwick Highway onto Sandy Creek Road and slammed into a grassy area near the convenience store. The vehicles stopped about a mile south of the store on Sandy Creek Road and the deadly argument ensued, Howard said.

Bowden’s body was discovered later that morning in the driveway of his Walton County residence.

Autopsy results led authorities to charge Tommy Joe Byrd. “That, coupled with witness statements, determined that he received the fatal wound in Morgan County,” Howard said.

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