Fired Police Sergeant Held on $1M Bond Shot Medic in Back of Head, Indictment Says

FacebookTwitterPinterestEmailShare
Police units respond on scene. (Getty Images)
Police units respond on scene. (Getty Images)

Fired Columbus Police Sgt. William Talley shot paramedic Kelly Levinsohn in the back of the head with a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol May 11, before he wrecked her truck off Interstate 185 in Harris County and threatened suicide during an overnight standoff with police, authorities say.

Such details have come to light since a grand jury indicted Talley this week for murder and other charges, and his attorney during a contentious Nov. 1 court hearing secured a $1 million bond for his release from the Muscogee County Jail, where he remains in relative isolation.

Defense attorney Jennifer Curry said Talley likely will stay jailed, because neither he nor his family can afford a $1 million bond. Though authorities say Talley is a depressed, suicidal alcoholic, he is ineligible for treatment in a mental health facility, having been declared competent to stand trial after a court-ordered psychological evaluation.

Curry filed a subsequent motion Nov. 4 asking Judge Gil McBride to reduce the $1 million bond. Talley's next court hearing is set for Dec. 10.

Talley by law was entitled to a bond because he had been jailed more than 90 days without indictment. He was placed under arrest May 12, while he still was in the hospital being treated for injuries from the truck crash off Interstate 185's Exit 30.

The Bond Hearing

On Nov. 1, Assistant District Attorney Robin King told McBride prosecutors had not submitted the case to a grand jury, because they had been awaiting the results of ballistics tests on the pistol, and those results had just come in. She did not say what the tests showed.

King argued during the bond hearing that because Talley's suicidal and has been trained as an Army Ranger, sniper and police SWAT team member, he is a danger both to himself and to the public, so the jail is the safest place to keep him.

Among the witnesses King called was a member of the Muscogee County sheriff's "Special Response Team," who testified Muscogee County had to deploy an armored vehicle to capture Talley during the May 12 standoff, because of the threat he presented.

Curry countered officers regularly use the armored vehicle in any situation they consider high-risk, including serving search warrants during drug investigations. So its use is not unusual, and Harris County deputies needed it in Talley's case only because they had no comparable equipment, she said.

The circumstances of Levinsohn's death show no evidence her killer used any special training, so that had no bearing on Talley's bond motion, she added.

The jail is not a long-term mental health facility, and it can't provide the treatment he needs, she said. If Talley's health further deteriorates, he may not be capable of assisting in his own defense, she added.

King acknowledged Talley remains on suicide watch and is separated from other jail inmates, but noted he's no longer in strict isolation because he's now permitted to visit with his family and to receive mail.

Talley has visited with his parents the day before bond hearings, Curry said, and he is permitted to receive mail, but he's not allowed to keep his correspondence or to write back, because he can't keep paper or pens in his cell. His visitation remains tightly restricted, she said.

Curry asked McBride to set Talley's bond at $100,000, noting other accused killers have been granted less. King asked that Talley's bond be at least a seven-digit figure.

McBride set the bond at $500,000 for the murder charge and $250 each on charges of aggravated assault and violating his oath as a police officer.

The Indictment

The indictment the grand jury returned Tuesday revealed that Talley shot Levinsohn in the back of the head.

He was indicted on two murder counts: malice or intentional murder, and felony murder for allegedly causing Levinsohn's death while committing the felony of aggravated assault.

The malice murder count alleges he "with malice aforethought" killed Levinsohn "by shooting her in the back of the head."

He was indicted also for aggravated assault, with that count stating he shot Levinsohn "with a Glock .45-caliber pistol," which police say is not a handgun the department issues to its officers. That weapon is specified again in the indictment's fourth count, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

The fifth and final charge was violation of oath by a public officer, which the indictment alleges he "did willfully and intentionally violate," having sworn to "in all cases, conform to and enforce the laws of the United States, the state of Georgia, and the charter and ordinances of the Consolidated Government of Columbus."

In convicted, Talley faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The Homicide

Talley joined the police department in July 2002. Police Chief Ricky Boren fired him on May 20.

Though Talley's married with two children, he and Levinsohn were having an affair that his family was aware of. His wife Rebecca Talley called police around 8 p.m. May 11 to warn them Levinsohn had come to harm, and reported the person responsible was involved in a wreck in Harris County, police said.

The wife met officers outside Levinsohn's 5829 Pratt Ave. home when they arrived, authorities said.

Forcing their way in, police found Levinsohn, 44, shot to death, and soon learned Talley, 51, had wrecked off the interstate's Hopewell Church Road exit.

Prosecutors have said Talley held a gun to his head during the standoff in Harris County. Investigators said they recovered a handgun from the pickup truck, after Talley's arrest, and thought it could be the weapon used to kill Levinsohn.

Talley remained under guard in intensive care at Piedmont Columbus Regional until his release May 16. Two days later, he waived his preliminary hearing in Columbus Recorder's Court, and initially was held without bond as his case went to Superior Court.

Personnel reports the Ledger-Enquirer obtained through an open records request revealed Talley previously had been involved in an alcohol-fueled conflict at Levinsohn's home.

Officers called to Levinsohn's home at 7:41 p.m. March 11, 2018, had to handcuff Talley to "calm him down" after he'd consumed too much alcohol.

"Sergeant Talley used alcohol off duty to the extent that such use rendered him unfit for duty at a given time," read a personnel "action report" dated Aug. 15, 2018. "The incident required the attention of two on-duty supervisors. Talley had to be placed in handcuffs due to a brief struggle while officers attempted to calm him down and speak with him about his personal issues."

He was disciplined with a one-day suspension without pay, and ordered to undergo treatment, before he was declared fit to return to duty, records showed. 

This article is written by Tim Chitwood from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Show Full Article