• Toxicology report: Mom found dead at party had 0.23 BAC, Xanax in her system

    By: Mike Petchenik

    Updated:

    FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - There are new developments in the case of a mother of five who died during an overnight partygaining national interest online.

    On Wednesday, investigators ruled the death of Tamla Horsford was accidental.

    Channel 2's Mike Petchenik has now confirmed a toxicology report said Horsford had a blood alcohol level of 0.23, nearly three times the legal limit to drive in Georgia.

    The screen also found traces of marijuana and Xanax in her system at the time of her death.

    Partygoers found Horsford dead in the backyard of a Forsyth County home in November 2018, the morning after she attended an "adult slumber party."

    Sheriff's investigators have closed the case and said there's no sign of foul play.

    Petchenik filed an open records request with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and got a copy of the state autopsy report on which the detectives based their findings.


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    The report says Horsford had blunt force injuries to her head, neck, torso and extremities, including a broken neck and dislocated wrist. The pathologist concluded her injuries were consistent with a fall and the result of an accident.

    Horsford's friend told Petchenik the toxicology report does not tell the entire story. However, Michelle Graves believes what was revealed in the autopsy report could help bolster what the family thinks happened.

    "Still, if she was that drunk and they say they left her on the balcony alone, why would you leave somebody that is so intoxicated? Why would you have left her alone?" Graves said. "Did you not check on her? How did she get over the deck? How did she get over a 4-foot railing on a deck?"

    Channel 2 Action News received the following statement from the attorneys for the homeowner and other party goers who were with Horsford before her death:

    "It has been 109 days since the tragic death of Tamla Horsford. 109 days of the family and friends of Tamla Horsford being in limbo as to answers regarding her tragic death. 109 days of not being able to properly grieve their loved one. 109 days filled with misinformation, false information, and in some cases, a blatant disregard for the truth. 109 days during which each of the partygoers has been holding their respective breaths awaiting the next Facebook post, Twitter post, or Instagram story with their names, pictures, or other information about them. 109 days of waiting for the certain result that was to come yesterday in the press conference by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department. 109 days of our clients being unable to properly grieve the death of their friend, because of what certain very vocal individuals called a “murder” from the start. As stated previously, each person who was present on November 4, 2018, has cooperated completely with law enforcement officers in an attempt to give family and friends answers in regard to the tragic death of Tamla Horsford. That statement was corroborated by officials yesterday.  

    "The Sheriff’s Office here in Forsyth County conducted a thorough investigation into the death. They followed the appropriate protocols, interviewing each of the partygoers multiple times, canvassing the neighborhood for additional information, and obtaining every piece of tangible evidence that was possible to obtain. The homeowner immediately provided an electronic log of door entries and exits to the police. They provided the bottle of tequila Mrs. Horsford brought to the party. At no point in time did any of them tamper with, obstruct, or lie to law enforcement regarding the circumstances surrounding her death. 
     
    "Three separate government entities had their hands on this investigation. Forsyth County major crimes unit, the Forsyth County Coroner’s Office, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations each had a part to play in this investigation. As reported by the Sheriff yesterday in his press conference, each of these three independent bodies found absolutely and unequivocally that there was no foul play and that there was no evidence of any assault. Our clients knew this to be fact because there was NEVER any wrongdoing by them that evening. 

    "Contrary to stories being put out there by a certain very vocal individual, this was not a racially motivated murder. This was not murder. This was not anything other than a tragic accident. Mrs. Horsford fell 18 feet from the top of the rail on the back deck to the ground.   

    "In specifically addressing the “concerns” with the case, the homeowner called 911 immediately upon finding Mrs. Horsford’s body. There was no time lapse, as reported by various blog posts and outlets.

    "In relaying the time discrepancies on the coroner’s report and the door entries and exits, it is important to understand that November 4th was the night that daylight savings time ended. At 2:00 a.m., the time “falls back” to 1 a.m. and the hour repeats. Therefore, you had two hours at 1:00 a.m. back to back, which is the logical explanation for why she went out at 1:57 a.m. but died at 1:30 a.m. There were two 1:30 a.m.’s that morning. Specifically, regarding the injuries, the three independent law enforcement agencies verified that those injuries occurred as a direct result of the fall. There were no injuries inflicted upon Mrs. Horsford by anyone at that party. Regarding the Facebook post referenced regarding “no fall,” the original 911 call, before any deputies arrived, stated explicitly that the first thought was that it was a fall from the deck. Only after our client had spoken with law enforcement and heard what they thought did she post that there was no fall, as that was the original theory of law enforcement.   
     
    "In specifically addressing Mr. Barrera’s actions while employed as a pre-trial services officer, as stated in previous reports by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Berrera did look at the investigative report. He did not edit, print, or otherwise tamper with the report, otherwise he would have been charged with a crime. His curiosity got the better of him, and he succumbed to the temptation to look at the report. Forsyth County took their action in terminating him, and Mr. Barrera has accepted that action. That does not make him guilty of any crime, and certainly does not make him guilty of murder. 

    "As stated before, our clients are completely innocent of any wrongdoing. They have not had a chance to grieve the death of Mrs. Horsford either. Our clients were friends with Mrs. Horsford too. Their children played ball together, went to school together, and lived in community together. They went to church together. Mrs. Horsford and our clients were doing life together, mostly because they have children the same ages. This accident is heartbreaking, that a mother of 5 lost her life too early, and that her children have to grow up without a mother. It is impossible to fathom the pain felt by her husband and other members of her family. We pray that the community will gather around the Horsford family during this time of unfathomable heartbreak and support them as they move forward. We pray for healing in this community over this tragedy. We pray that we can walk forward, together, toward a future of reconciliation."

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