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Mugshot of Toby M. Holmes

A jury of 12 began deliberating about 10:40 a.m. Thursday in the reckless homicide trial of former Grundy County, Tennessee, deputy Toby Mike Holmes, charged in the death of a 20-year-old woman found dead in a Ford Mustang after shots were fired during a police chase.

Holmes faces a charge of reckless homicide in Shelby Comer's December 2017 death.

Jurors must decide whether they believe the state's argument that Holmes was reckless when he began firing into a car that had been pursued by Grundy County deputies.

In closing statements, Holmes' defense team of Clifton Sobel and Bill Bullock argued that testimony this week from a defense expert medical examiner indicates Comer was already dead of an overdose of methamphetamine when she was shot. The defense attorneys contended that Holmes saw a gun and was in fear of his life and others' when he started shooting. Sobel told jurors there was no blood found in Jackie Wayne Bean's car that would indicate Comer had been shot to death.

Assistant District Attorneys David Shinn and Courtney Lynch told jurors in the state's closing statement that the state's medical examiner in the case found Comer had died of a gunshot to her back and that her blood was found on her sweatshirt and undershirt. The Mustang was driven by Bean, and Holmes fired a total of 15 rounds with one round striking Comer, Bean's passenger, in the back. Prosecutors also said Bean wasn't found to have a gun when he was captured hours later, according to the state's closing statements.

On Dec. 23, 2017, Comer was found dead on B Mine Road after the pursuit ended, Times Free Press archives show. Holmes was not immediately identified, but the TBI launched an investigation.

Bean, the driver, fled the scene and was apprehended about 8 a.m. the next day.

Holmes was arrested by the TBI and indicted by a Grundy County grand jury on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in November 2018. That charge was changed to reckless homicide, because the original charge requires that the victim provoke the defendant and Comer was a passenger in Bean's fleeing car at the time, according to Shinn.

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