Two plead guilty in shooting

COVINGTON - Two men arrested last year in connection with the accidental shooting death of a Newton County woman pleaded guilty to the charges against them in Newton County Superior Court on Tuesday.

The defendants, Brandon Douglas Hernandez, 22, of Loganville, and Toney Laurens Tumbling, 24, of Oxford, were taken into custody last February after a stray bullet from a gun they were using for target practice missed its intended target and struck the victim, Tanya Rosemary McCracken, 31, of 830 Hightower Trail.

McCracken was at home with her three children, ages 11, 6 and 11/2, the evening of Feb. 2, 2007, when the stray bullet came through the roof of her home and killed her.

Hernandez pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and discharging a firearm near a public road. He was sentenced to 10 years, the first five of which will be served in prison, while the remainder will be served on probation.

Hernandez was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine plus all applicable fees and surcharges.

As a convicted felon, Hernandez will no longer be allowed to possess a firearm and will not be allowed to associate with Tumbling, according to Newton County District Attorney Ken Wynne.

"Mr. Hernandez admitted that he was the one who fired the fatal shot that killed Tanya McCracken. Consequently, the state moved to dismiss the involuntary (manslaughter) charges against Mr. Tumbling," Wynne said. "Instead, he entered a guilty plea to the offense of reckless conduct for his part in firing a weapon into the air in a residential area. He also pled guilty to discharging a firearm near a public road."

Tumbling was sentenced to two years on probation and ordered to pay $1,000 in fines, fees and surcharges.

"This tragic case points out the nightmare that can result when gun safety rules are not followed. We all hurt for the McCracken family, especially for her husband and small children who will now and forever have a void in their lives that only Mrs. McCracken could fill," Wynne said. "I commend Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Toney (Tumbling) for accepting responsibility for what they've done and for not putting Mrs. McCracken's family through an arduous trial process."

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.