Barnhart guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide

By Sarah Hawley - [email protected]

POMEROY — A Meigs County jury has convicted a Pomeroy man of five felony charges, including aggravated vehicular homicide, following a two-day trial in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.

Richard Barnhart Jr., 32, was convicted on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular manslaughter and two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence, when the jury returned its verdict just after 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The charges stem from a Jan. 13, 2017, vehicle crash on State Route 143 near Horner Hill which took the life of Jesse Carr, 26.

The jury of four women and eight men took less than two hours to return the guilty verdict on the charges, as well as the specifications for prior OVI convictions and driving under suspension at the time of the crime.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, with representatives from both the family of the victim and defendant possibly speaking at the hearing .

Defense attorney Charles Knight stated that the family of both Barnhart and the victim did not want to see the case go forward or see prison time as a result of it.

Prosecutor James K. Stanley confirmed that the family of the victim was not in agreement with the prosecution of the case. Stanley stated he had met with the family a few months ago, prior to one of the other scheduled trial dates which was continued, and explained that as this was the fifth OVI for the defendant and it resulted in the death of a person that it was necessary for there to be prison time should Barnhart be convicted. He added that he explained the need to balance the family’s wishes with the impact on society due to the crime.

While Stanley said he was pleased to see justice served in the verdict of the jury, it is not an outcome to celebrate as there is the loss of life of a young man.

Knight stated following the verdict that he believed “the jury clearly did not take the time to view the evidence” and was confused by the prior convictions that had nothing to do with this case.

Asked if he planned to appeal the outcome of the case, Knight said he would ask the court to appoint another attorney to review the case as handled by Knight to preserve Barnhart’s right to a fair appeal.

All five charges are expected to merge at sentencing, with Judge I. Carson Crow to sentence Barnhart on the first-degree felony charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, said Stanley. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence, with the specification for prior OVI convictions (four total, three in the past six years) and driving under suspension. Stanley said the sentence range is 10-15 years in prison.

Prior to the jury receiving the case on Wednesday afternoon, the state presented four witnesses — Rutland Volunteer Firefighters Jason McDaniel and Brad Smith and Ohio State Highway Patrol Troopers Christopher Finley and Shawn Cunningham.

The defense presented only one witness, a woman who had seen Carr and Barnhart together at her residence earlier on the evening of Jan. 13, with Carr driving at the time the two left at around 6 or 6:30 p.m. She stated she did not know who was driving at the time of the crash.

Knight asked that bond for Barnhart be continued, allowing for him to remain free until the sentencing on Monday. Stanley stated that given the seriousness of the convictions and the prior record that Barnhart should be remanded to the custody of the sheriff pending sentencing. Crow set bond at $50,000, with a GPS ankle monitor required should bond be posted.

Barnhart was in custody as of Sentinel deadline.

By Sarah Hawley

[email protected]

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.