By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Man acquitted, woman sentenced in Lula home invasion and $100,000 robbery
08152018 ROBBERY AMANDA TYSON
Amanda Ashley Tyson

A Virginia man has been acquitted on all charges in a 2018 Lula home invasion and armed robbery involving $100,000 stolen from a safe, according to court documents, while a co-defendant pleaded guilty to a lesser charge the next day. 

James Henry Kelley was found not guilty Thursday, Jan. 20, of home invasion, armed robbery, kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Kelley was originally charged along with Christopher Blaine Ward, 34, of Greenville, North Carolina, Amanda Ashley Tyson, 37, of Greensboro, North Carolina, and James Glenn Tyson, 39, of Lula.

Kelley and Ward were accused of pointing guns at three victims inside the Chattahoochee Street home.

Kelley’s defense attorney, Kyle Denslow said the kidnapping with bodily injury charge would have carried a life sentence.

“I’m glad that I think the jury made the right decision and glad that Mr. Kelley is going to be able to go on back home and he’ll be released,” Denslow said.

According to the Hall County Jail logs, Kelley was released Friday, Jan. 21, after nearly a year behind bars.

Ward allegedly struck one man on the head with a gun and demanded the victim “crawl from the living room to the master bedroom where he was held against his will,” according to the warrant.

Ward was convicted in January 2020 on charges of home invasion, armed robbery, kidnapping with bodily injury, kidnapping, four counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office said the Tysons, who were romantically involved at the time but have since separated, “conspired and plotted” with their co-defendants to rob the victims. Amanda Tyson was acquainted with the family who was robbed, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Denslow said he thought the credibility of Amanda Tyson, who the defense attorney believed was covering for James Tyson, came under fire.

Defense attorney Andy Maddox disagreed with Denslow’s assertions, saying that he believed the more crucial element leading to Kelley’s acquittal hinged on James Tyson’s refusal to testify.

The prosecution dismissed the home invasion charge against James Tyson in April 2021. He  pleaded guilty to an amended charge of party to a crime of robbery by intimidation and possession of clonazepam. Clonazepam is most commonly seen as the sedative Klonopin.

James Tyson was sentenced in April 2021 to 20 years with the first half of his sentence behind bars. Superior Court Judge Jason Deal granted credit for time served and allowed the back half of James Tyson’s sentence to be served on probation. James Tyson was also banished from all judicial circuits in Georgia except the Mountain Judicial Circuit, which includes Habersham, Rabun and Stephens counties.

The prosecution dismissed the home invasion charge against Amanda Tyson Jan. 21, and she pleaded guilty to a charge of party to a crime of robbery by intimidation and possession of clonazepam. 

Amanda Tyson was sentenced to 20 years with the first eight years in incarceration. Deal granted Amanda Tyson credit for time served, and allowed for the remaining 12 years on the sentence to be served on probation.

Maddox had asked for significantly less jail time at the plea, as Amanda Tyson had already completed an inpatient residential rehabilitation program, returned to college and testified for the state.

The Tysons and Ward were ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution jointly to the victims.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said last year that the stolen money was never recovered.