Man who lived in home with dead girlfriend for days sentenced to life in prison

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An Independence man was sentenced to life in prison Monday after he pleaded guilty in August to killing his girlfriend in late 2022.

Tommy Joe Powell, 55, killed 32-year-old Amberly Harris several days before police discovered her body during a welfare check, according to the Kenton County Prosecutor’s Office. She died of a gunshot wound to the head.

“Tommy Joe Powell is a stereotypical example of why domestic violence is deadly epidemic,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Taylor Roof, who prosecuted the case with Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders.

Powell took out a life insurance policy on Harris shortly before her murder, prosecutors told Judge Patricia Summe.

While Powell’s attorney asked for leniency for his client because of Powell’s military service and his apology to Harris’ family, prosecutors argued that he was not remorseful because of prior instances of domestic violence before the murder.

“Powell shot Amberly in the head with a shotgun at close range, killing her in a scene so gruesome it looked like something out of a horror movie,” Roof said.

Roof said the life sentence was the closest thing to justice for Harris’ family.

“Let this be a warning to perpetrators of domestic violence, everywhere,” Roof said. “If you kill your victim, you’ll go to prison forever, just like Tommy Joe Powell.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or to go You can also reach the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-800-799-SAFE or the ION Center for Violence Prevention in Covington at 859-491-3335. The ION Center’s website is

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