Mother of murder suspect on home incarceration defends her son

Mother of murder suspect on home incarceration defends her son
Emanya Johnson said "We don't lead the perfect life over here, but we ain't no killers either."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Following outrage over the home-incarceration release of a man convicted in the beating death of a 62-year-old, the suspect’s mother said it’s police who are harassing her son.

Tyrone Cheatham is now back on home incarceration, or HIP, after violating the terms four times and was recently arrested for fleeing and evading police for the second time.

He’d been sentenced to five years in the 2017 beating death of Lonnie Bard.

Cheatham’s mother stands by her son.

“We don’t lead the perfect life over here,” Emanya Johnson said. “But we ain’t no killers either.”

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When asked how she felt about people being upset that her son is out on home incarceration, she replied that her son did not commit a crime, referring to Bard’s death.

“My son cried to me,” she said. “And there ain’t nothing I could have told my son, just like I cannot tell the Bard’s family, you know what I’m saying. They lost a life.”

Cheatham pleaded guilty to facilitation of murder and got five years in prison.

But what happened next is what upset the Bard family even more.

WAVE 3 News obtained court records in the case and found a timeline of missed appointments and violations of the terms of home incarceration.

According to the documents, in July 2018, Johnson kicked Cheatham out of her house for not listening to her. To that she agreed.

“You don’t abide by my rules, yeah you’re gonna get out,” she said, adding that after that, her son has been on good behavior and got two jobs.

The documents also state Johnson called HIP and told them she’d kicked her son out. Officers spoke with Cheatham on the phone and asked to come to HIP. He never did. The documents state that when police approached him, Cheatham took off running. The was one HIP violation.

Less than two months later, in April 2019, Judge Annie O’Connell granted Cheatham shock probation.

The next month, Cheatham violated the HIP terms again because he didn’t report an address, but was released again.

Then, on June 6, according to the documents, he failed to show up to the probation office and was brought back into court on July 8. He’s put on HIP again.

Three weeks later, according to the police report, his ankle bracelet rings from somewhere he’s not supposed to be. When police show up, the report said, Cheatham took off running.

But after all of that, on Aug. 6, the same judge released him one more time.

Cheatham’s mom said police are harassing her son, and that police have always known they can find him at her home. She said there are different groups of probation officers involved in her son’s case, and that there’s been miscommunication between the officers leading to the violations.

Johnson still contends her son is innocent of murder.

“He did not take a life,” she said. “I wish everybody would know that. Tyrone is not a killer.”

Meanwhile, Bard’s daughter, Lonnie McCray, called the number of times Cheatham has been let out a “serious judicial flaw.”

McCray told WAVE 3 News that Cheatham messed up a free ride three times. She said her father would have turned 65 just few days ago.

“I miss him very, very much,” she wrote. “The wound left in my heart is raw and things like things don’t allow healing.”

The Commonwealth’s Office filed a motion to revoke Cheatham’s probation. That hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19.

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