Man gets 2 life terms in shooting deaths
A Wilson man known for outbursts in court showed no emotion Thursday as he was given two life sentences after a jury found him guilty of two counts of first degree murder in two men’s 2018 shooting deaths.
A jury of seven women and five men convicted defendant Shontez Anterrio Barnes, 42, after about one hour and 15 minutes of deliberation.
Barnes had pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed Elliot D. Barnes, 34, and Redmond L. Barnes Jr., 39, around 10:07 p.m. Sept.1, 2018, at the “schoolyard” apartment complex at 717 Black Creek Road. The victims are not related to the defendant.
The jury also found Barnes guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Superior Court Judge William D. Wolfe sentenced Barnes to life without parole for the killing of Elliot Barnes and life without parole for the killing of Redmond Barnes. The firearm possession conviction was consolidated with the second life sentence for Redmond Barnes’ killing.
Prior to sentencing, Carla Barnes, widow of victim Redmond Barnes, stood to speak to the judge.
“It has impacted me. It has impacted our three kids,” she said. “The kids have been devastated. The whole family has been devastated. I am just happy for the verdict.”
Patricia Barnes, mother of Elliot Barnes and sister of Redmond Barnes, sat on the side of the courtroom behind prosecutors but did not not speak.
HISTORY OF OUTBURSTS
Shontez Barnes had asked Judge Wolfe if he would be permitted to sit in a holding cell outside the courtroom as the verdicts were read.
Wolfe denied Barnes’ request.
The judge said that in light of the defendant’s previous outbursts in open court and in meetings with his court-appointed attorneys, Barnes was ordered to be brought back into the courtroom in shackles to hear the verdicts being read and for his sentencing.
Earlier this year, on an occasion in which Barnes fired an attorney in front of another judge, the defendant loudly called both the attorney and the judge racial epithets, screaming as he was led out of the courtroom after a hearing.
In another hearing, Barnes’ defense attorney Kristie Stilton described an outburst by her client in which the defendant swiped the lawyer’s laptop off a table, knocking it against a wall and onto the floor.
'MOUNTAIN OF EVIDENCE'
During the four-day trial, which began Monday in the Wilson County Courthouse, prosecutor Joel Stadium called several Wilson police officers to testify about the night of the murders.
RELATED STORY: Testimony begins in double murder trial
Both victims were shot at the stoops in the front and back at Apartments C and D at 717 Black Creek Road.
When police arrived, Shontez Barnes was on the building’s roof. After a period of time, Barnes threw down a silver-colored Taurus .38-caliber revolver that contained six spent shells in the cylinder.
RELATED STORY: Defendant in double murder hid on rooftop
The gun was analyzed and found to contain Shontez Barnes’ DNA. State crime lab technicians traced three of the four bullets found in the victims’ bodies to the revolver.
While in custody in an interview room, Shontez Barnes was recorded on video saying “I made a mistake” and “Thou shalt not shed innocent blood. They weren’t innocent.”
Shontez Barnes’ clothing was matched on various videos from the scene and at the police department.
A glove found on the roof of the apartment building was tested and found to contain gunshot residue on the outside and the defendant’s DNA on the inside. The glove matched gloves the defendant was shown wearing on video from an adjacent convenience store minutes before the shooting.
The state had a video from a nearby business that showed what the state contended to be muzzle flashes at the location and the time Redmond Barnes was shot to death.
Prosecutor Joel Stadiem the facts presented “a mountain of evidence” in his closing argument to jurors.
Barnes opted not to take the witness stand, and the defense team did not present any evidence.
In closing arguments, attorney Stilton told jurors that the case was not simple.
“There are unknowns in this case,” she said. “When we talk about an investigation, we want a full investigation.”
Stilton said that once Barnes had been arrested, police stopped their investigation because they were sure they had the right man.
“The state has to prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt,” Stilton told jurors. “You must be entirely convinced in order to find your verdict.”
Stilton said “nobody else was investigated.”
Attorney Derek Brown picked apart the evidence in his final argument to the jury saying the evidence “doesn’t add up.”
But in the end, the jury disagreed.
According to prior reporting in The Wilson Times, Shontez Barnes had a prior conviction of manslaughter on Jan. 14, 2003. Barnes was convicted in the May 19, 2000, shooting death of Leon Williams of Stantonsburg.
Williams was shot to death while Barnes was out on bond for another murder charge in connection with the March 24, 2001, shooting death of 29-year-old James Edgar Yelverton of Goldsboro. In the trial for Yelverton’s murder, the jury deadlocked 7-5 and the judge called an end to the trial.
Shontez Barnes was formally charged with murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Beddingfield High School junior Nathan Poole on Feb. 1, 1995, but the charges were dismissed on Oct. 3, 1996, in Wilson County Superior Court.
After sentencing in the double murder case, defense attorney Brown noted an appeal.
Shontez Barnes was remanded to the custody of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office without bond.
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