NWGA Scanner | October 4th, 2022

Tunnel Hill convicted felons sentenced to prison after being found in possession of a gun during DUI traffic stop

Philip Lamar Byrd, 43, and Tamera Marie McAnnally, 32, both from Tunnel Hill, Ga., were convicted by a Catoosa County jury for the charges of possession of a firearm by convicted felon. 

Additionally, Byrd was convicted of DUI, disregarding a traffic control device (2 counts), and Improper driving on a divided highway, and McAnnally was convicted of obstruction. 

The evidence, presented over a single day trial and presided over by Superior Court Judge Brian House, showed that in the early morning hours of Jan. 30, Byrd was driving a truck on Highway 151 while towing a large boat without the proper equipment to tow a boat of its size. Byrd ran two red lights.

Officer Mathias Green with the Ringgold Police Department was on routine patrol and conducted a traffic stop on Byrd as he was entering Interstate 75 via the on-ramp at exit 348. Byrd was clearly under the influence of drugs and alcohol, manifested by his dangerous driving, as well as his loud, boisterous, and bizarre behavior, District Attorney Chris Arnt said.

Byrd failed standardized field sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI and traffic offenses. Byrd was initially cooperative with both Officer Green and Green’s supervisor, Sergeant Joshua Van Dyke, who arrived at the traffic stop to assist. However, when Byrd was asked to exit his vehicle, he became argumentative with the officers. Byrd began yelling and arguing with officers when they advised the truck would need to be towed from the interstate entrance ramp, it was stated. 

Tamera McAnnally was seated in the passenger seat of Byrd’s truck. She, too, was initially cooperative, but refused to hand over the keys to the vehicle to officers. When Sgt. Van Dyke attempted to inform Ms. McAnnally that Byrd was arrested and the truck would be towed, she locked the doors and rolled up the windows to the truck. 

Sgt. Van Dyke asked her to unlock the doors to the truck multiple times and she refused. Sgt. Van Dyke was forced to make entry into the vehicle by breaking the window. Upon searching the truck, Sgt. Van Dyke located a .22 revolver that was accessible to both Byrd and Ms. McAnnally in the front seat area of the vehicle. 

Both were convicted felons who were legally prohibited from possessing firearms. Byrd has previous convictions for burglary, multiple cases of forgery, multiple cases of theft, and violent obstruction of law enforcement. Ms. McAnnally has a previous conviction for theft. 

After the verdict was returned, Judge House sentenced Ms. McAnnally to 10 years with one year to be served in the Department of Corrections. Byrd was sentenced to 10 years with four years to be served in the Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole. 

The state of Georgia was represented by Assistant District Attorney Deanna Reisman. 

DA Arnt praised the efforts of ADA Reisman in prosecuting this case and said, “We have seen a significant rise across the country in illegal firearm possession and usage. While some woke politicians and prosecutors have decided the solution is passing more gun laws that impact only law abiding citizens, we have taken a different approach in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit. 

“We believe in actually prosecuting the laws already on the books and holding those who illegally use or possess guns accountable. If you are a convicted felon and possess a gun in our circuit you should expect to go to prison. The solution to the growing crime problem in America is to actually hold criminals accountable.”