CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee judge dismissed the case against a woman who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in the slaying of a man who was bound with duct tape and robbed when she was 13 years old.
Hamilton County Judge Amanda Dunn on Tuesday dismissed the first-degree murder and aggravated robbery convictions of Angel Bumpass, 28, news outlets reported.
Bumpass was 24 when she was convicted in 2019 in the slaying of Franklin Bonner, 68. A medical examiner determined he suffocated after being bound to a kitchen table with duct tape covering his feet, arms, nose and mouth in 2009.
The case had gone cold until prosecutors reopened it in 2018 and found Bumpass’ fingerprints matched those taken from the duct tape.
A co-defendant, Mallory Vaughn, was acquitted. At trial, the defense had argued that witness testimony was flawed and evidence was weak.
Bumpass was granted a new trial by a judge and released from jail in September 2022. She has maintained her innocence and she drew support from those who said her conviction was unjust, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
Bumpass’ attorney, William Massey, previously told the newspaper that discussions about the case with prosecutors included the results of a polygraph test, which are not allowed in court but were submitted in hopes of showing Bumpass was not involved in Bonner’s death.
Massey submitted a second polygraph result, as requested by District Attorney Coty Wamp. Both results showed Bumpass passed the test, Massey said.
Wamp said there is a missing suspect, maybe more, in Bonner’s death.
“We know that there is at least one person responsible for this criminal offense who has not yet been located or identified as a suspect,” Wamp said. “It is my opinion that we must refocus our efforts on identifying the individual who did this.”
Massey, Bumpass’ Memphis-based lawyer, said he was not expecting Tuesday’s outcome.
“We were getting ready to go to trial,” Massey said outside the courtroom.
Bumpass said she is living with her two daughters in Kentucky and is trying to rebuild her life. She thanked her supporters.
“I feel happy and blessed,” Bumpass said.