Convicted killer denied parole

A local family is breathing a little easier because a man who killed their loved one will remain behind bars.

Tony D. Hartsell will spend at least another three years in prison.

Hartsell is serving a life sentence for killing 84-year-old Merle Lee Guinn 23 years ago. Though time has passed, the wounds will never completely heal, says Guinn’s niece, Donna Avagliano.

Avagliano remembers her aunt as a caring, church-going woman who had concerns about living alone. The retired hairdresser’s fears were realized when a neighbor broke in and stabbed her to death.

Hartsell talked with media shortly after the lethal attack, expressing sorrow for the loss of his neighbor. He later found himself charged with the woman’s death, and in 1995 he was convicted of first-degree murder.

Sentenced to life in prison, Hartsell still has a chance of being set free. Because of changes in sentencing structures, Hartsell’s

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