Anderson man enters Alford plea to manslaughter charge in wife's 2012 slaying

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJune 9, 2014 

Photo by Kevin van Gelderen | ThinkStockphoto.com

LAWRENCEBURG — On the day that he was scheduled to go to trial on a murder charge in the slaying of his wife, an Anderson County man entered an Alford plea Monday.

Timothy Branson, 49, was accused of shooting his wife, Modena S. Sutton Branson, 50, on March 5, 2012, at a home on Ballard Road. He was indicted on one count of murder in her death and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly endangering the lives of Modena Branson's daughter and grandson.

On Monday, Branson entered an Alford plea to one count of first-degree manslaughter and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. In an Alford plea, a defendant maintains his innocence but acknowledges that there is sufficient evidence for a jury to convict.

Under a plea agreement, the recommended sentence was 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge, plus five years on the wanton-endangerment charges, for a total of 20 years. In addition, when he is released from prison, Branson is to have no contact with his wife's family.

Anderson Circuit Judge Charles Hickman scheduled sentencing for Aug. 5.

Modena's sister, Dawn Catlett of Lawrenceburg, spoke out about the recommended sentence after the change of plea.

"He got off light for what he did to my sister," Catlett said. "He decided she didn't need to live any more."

Catlett said Branson claims that he doesn't remember shooting his wife.

"That is hard for me to believe, that you can shoot somebody four times and not remember it," she said.

Catlett brought photos of her sister's last birthday celebration and a hand-written placard that read, "Modena — We miss you. No one can kill our memories. Love you always."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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