Woman pleads guilty in pellet gun slaying

Published 4:17 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2024

By Justin Story, Bowling Green Daily News

BOWLING GREEN — Two weeks ahead of a scheduled trial, a Bowling Green woman pleaded guilty in a 2021 case involving a deadly pellet gun shooting.

Alison Hargis, 34, entered a guilty plea Tuesday in Warren Circuit Court to a charge of second-degree manslaughter.

Hargis took criminal responsibility for the July 24, 2021, incident on Cherry Way in which Phillip “Flip” Stewart, 31, of Bowling Green, was found unresponsive outside an apartment on that street.

Stewart was taken to The Medical Center, where he was found to have suffered from internal bleeding after being wounded by a pellet that lodged in his heart sac.

According to court filings, Stewart and his girlfriend were involved in an argument in the parking lot outside the apartment where Hargis was then staying.

Hargis came outside with a pellet gun and told Stewart not to hurt his girlfriend, which led Stewart to make a threatening remark toward Hargis and approach her, leading Hargis to shoot the pellet gun at Stewart.

Minutes afterward, Hargis attempted to leave her apartment and saw Stewart standing outside, prompting Hargis to retrieve the pellet gun and fire what is believed to have been the lethal shot.

The death was investigated by the Bowling Green Police Department, which developed Hargis as a suspect.

Police were unable to locate her that day, but did receive tips regarding her whereabouts that led officers to return to the apartment the following day, July 25, 2021, when she was arrested after being found hiding in the bathroom.

Hargis’ defense team had sought the dismissal of the murder charge, contending that she acted in self-defense against Stewart, while prosecutors argued that Hargis demonstrated awareness of guilt by leaving her apartment and not coming forward to police.

Hargis was charged initially with murder and faced a jury trial on that charge on Jan. 16 before reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors allowing her to plead guilty to the lesser count of second-degree manslaughter.

That charge carries a statutory penalty of 5-10 years in prison, and Hargis’ sentence on the second-degree manslaughter count will be determined after a court trial on Jan. 16 in which Warren Circuit Judge John Grise will hear evidence.

The Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is opposed to probation for Hargis, who also pleaded guilty Tuesday in two unrelated criminal cases.

In one case, Hargis pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of synthetic drugs and theft by unlawful taking (less than $500), all stemming from a 2020 shoplifting complaint that originated at Wal-Mart on Morgantown Road.

Prosecutors are recommending a two-year sentence in that case, and are asking for a five-year sentence in another case in which Hargis pleaded guilty to first-degree promoting contraband and possession of synthetic drugs in connection with a 2021 incident at Warren County Regional Jail in which synthetic marijuana was found on the bunk in her cell.