Rhea County man gets 20 years in prison for Bradley County woman's slaying

The man charged in a Bradley County, Tennessee, woman's 2020 slaying has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a sentence of more than two decades in prison.

Guy William O'Connell, 46, was sentenced on a best-interest guilty plea to a charge of second-degree murder in the slaying of Amber Renee Monday, 34, according to Rhea County Criminal Circuit Court records. The hearing was held June 1 before Judge Justin C. Angel in Dayton, Tennessee.

According to court records, O'Connell was sentenced to 25 years in prison to be served at 100% of the sentence. He was given credit for 513 days served from the time he was in custody in Tennessee - Jan. 4, 2021 - to the date of his plea June 1, court records state. An accompanying original charge of abuse of a corpse was dismissed in the judgment.

O'Connell was represented in the plea by Assistant Public Defender Mechelle Story Barbato. Barbato was in court Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Under state law, O'Connell's sentence can be reduced by "good time," for his behavior and other credits, according to 12th Judicial District Attorney Mike Taylor. Those credits can't reduce the time more than 15%, he said.

"So on a 25-year sentence, the earliest that he could be considered for parole is after service of 21.25 years," Taylor said Monday in a phone interview. The 12th Judicial District includes Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Rhea and Sequatchie counties.

"That does not mean that he would be granted parole at that time, only that he could be considered," Taylor said.

Following his arrest Aug. 25, 2020, on a fugitive warrant issued out of Tennessee, O'Connell was held in a Douglas County, Kansas, jail until January 2021, when he was transported back to Rhea County to face charges in Monday's death.

An immediate suspect in Monday's August 2020 disappearance, O'Connell was arrested in Kansas several days before a body later identified as that of Monday was found in a shallow grave on Dayton Mountain in Rhea County, according to investigators.

While O'Connell was charged in Rhea County, the investigation began in Bradley County when Monday left a Blue Springs Road home with O'Connell Aug. 14, 2020. They were last been seen in a black, four-door 2001 Toyota Tacoma around Cherokee Boulevard and Stringer Street in the North Shore area of Chattanooga, Bradley County authorities said when the probe began.

Bradley's theft investigation and the related fugitive warrant led authorities to the Midwest, where O'Connell was staying with relatives in Lawrence, Kansas, when he was taken into custody Aug. 25, 2020. The more serious charges in a Rhea County grand jury indictment shifted the case from Bradley County to Rhea County.

A forensic autopsy found the manner of death was homicide after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Rhea County deputies and a team from the University of Tennessee Forensics Center found Monday's grave south of Laurel Brook Academy near the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau, authorities said in 2020.

According to the Tennessee Department of Correction, O'Connell is currently incarcerated at the Rhea County Jail in Dayton, Tennessee.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.

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