Upshaw gets nine months for manslaughter

Published 11:02 pm Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tiffany Upshaw was sentenced to 10 years for the death of Melvin Scott. TROY MESSENGER FILE PHOTO

Tiffany Upshaw was sentenced to 10 years for the death of Melvin Scott. TROY MESSENGER FILE PHOTO

Tiffany Upshaw will likely be out of prison by Christmas.
After pleading guilty to an amended charge of manslaughter earlier this month, Upshaw was sentenced this week to 10 years.
“We asked for more time than that,” said District Attorney Tom Anderson. “But we understand the judge’s decision.”
Under the Split Sentence Act, Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley sentenced Upshaw to serve nine months of her 10-year sentence. The legislative act was formed to give judges some discretion to avoid the potentially harsh consequences of the Habitual Offender Act, but it can be used for any Class A or B felony that does not involve a criminal sex offense with a child.
According to the act, the judge has the jurisdiction to sentence any person convicted of a Class A or B felony to serve less than three years and suspend the rest of the sentence.
District Attorney Tom Anderson said the victim’s family had approved the plea agreement and “requested us to seek the maximum at sentencing.” It was a blind plea agreement, in other words there was no set sentence. The sentencing was left up to the judge. Upshaw, 24, could have been sentenced for anything between two and 20 years.
Upshaw was originally charged with felony murder in the shooting, which took place July 8, 2013. Because the crime was after a struggle for a gun with Melvin Scott, the father of her child, Anderson said a jury would have probably classified it as a crime of passion and returned with a manslaughter verdict.
An investigator with the Troy Police Department said Upshaw and Scott had gotten into an argument at 2 or 3 a.m. and Upshaw left their home to spend the night at her sister’s apartment.
At about 5:30 a.m., Scott and his sister came to the apartment looking for money they said Upshaw had. When he charged to the back bedroom, Upshaw followed. The pair struggled for her purse, which he assumed contained the money.
Among the purse’s contents was a .38-caliber pistol, which fell to the floor during the struggle. Both went for the gun, but Upshaw reached it first.
Scott and Upshaw fought for the gun and it went off, hitting a bystander in the hand.
“The male subject present at the scene said he had to pull the victim off of Upshaw and then she, without legal justification, shot him,” Anderson said.
The police allege the second bullet hit Scott in the back, traveling through his aorta and lung. The bullet ended up in his esophagus and he coughed it up before dying at the scene.
A third bullet fired hit the television in the front room and ricocheted out a window.
Anderson said the incident could be classified as a crime of passion because there was no cooling off period between the struggle and the shooting.

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