Woman convicted of killing Chattanooga man is getting a new trial, but will she await it in prison?

Angel Bumpass

Angel Bumpass, convicted of killing a 68-year-old Chattanooga man when she was a 13-year-old girl, is moving toward a new trial -- but attorneys are wrangling over whether she might be released from prison until the new trial concludes.

The killing of Franklin Bonner was in 2009, and Bumpass was found guilty in 2019 at the age of 24 and sentenced to life in prison.

Her case has been featured on national TV and a true crime podcast and was the subject of a signature drive on change.org by hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom did not think she was capable of the killing at such a young age.

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz granted Bumpass a new trial on Aug. 31, just a few days before being sworn in as an appeals court judge on Sept. 1.

Under newly sworn-in Criminal Court Judge Amanda Dunn, the case will be handled by Hamilton County's new Chief Homicide Prosecutor Michael Dowd and newly appointed Executive Assistant District Attorney Kevin Loper.

Attorneys William Massey and Seth M. Segraves will represent Bumpass during the new proceedings.

Bumpass has been serving her sentence in a Nashville prison since 2019.

During Friday's hearing, Massey filed a motion to allow Bumpass supervised freedom via GPS monitoring until the conclusion of the new trial. He also said her original bond amount of $300,000 should be lowered to $75,000.

Prosecutors indicated they would oppose supervised release at a Nov. 3 hearing -- and would argue for an increase in Bumpass' bond.

"I believe the original bond is insufficient based on the facts of the case," Dowd said.

Massey disagreed.

"What the law says in Tennessee is that a bond shall not be greater than what is sufficient for her to be present at court," Massey told the Times Free Press. "I don't know why, when you have less proof, on a lady that shows up and has a track record of showing up, you'd want to increase the bond."

On Jan. 16, 2009, Linda Bonner, Franklyn Bonner's wife, found him on the floor in their ransacked home in Washington Hills. Bonner was bound to a kitchen table and chair with duct tape around his feet, arms, head, nose and mouth.

The Hamilton County medical examiner later ruled his death a homicide by suffocation.

The case had gone cold when relatives of the victim asked prosecutors to take another look 10 years after the fact. That's when Bumpass' fingerprints were found on the duct tape that restrained Bonner.

Bumpass' grandfather testified that Bumpass was a girl who liked crafts and that she used duct tape in her craft projects in his garage. Further, he said he was a handyman who had been to Bonner's house -- and may have brought duct tape there with her fingerprints on it.

Nevertheless, the jury convicted Bumpass and acquitted a co-defendant for whom there was no physical evidence.

The case was the subject of episode 75 of the "Women & Crime" podcast, as well as being the subject of the May 12, 2020, episode of A&E's "Accused: Guilty or Innocent?" crime-docuseries. Bumpass' conviction caused a petition for a retrial through change.org where close to 900,000 signatures have been collected to date.

"I am glad that we are at this posture where we have the option of having a jury rehear this case," Massey said.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.