POMEROY — A Pomeroy man was sentenced to 14 years behind bars after being convicted of five felony charges, including aggravated vehicular homicide, during a two-day jury trial last week in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.
Richard Barnhart Jr., 32, was found guilty of two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular manslaughter, and two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI). All of the charges related to a single incident, therefore merged for the purpose of sentencing.
The most serious offense — first-degree felony aggravated vehicular homicide — carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a maximum of 15 years.
Judge I. Carson Crow sentenced Barnhart to 11 years on the charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, plus three years on the specification attached to the charge for prior OVI offenses.
Prosecutor James K. Stanley asked the court to sentence Barnhart to the maximum possible of 18 years in prison, citing his prior four OVI convictions, as well as the fifth offense causing the death of another individual.
“He has a long history of such behavior,” said Stanley, adding that Barnhart did not learn from his previous offenses.
Anytime a person kills another it is a serious offense Stanley told the court in asking for the maximum sentence.
Defense attorney Charles Knight stated that his client has no memory of the events of the night the crash occurred. Knight asked that Barnhart receive the minimum mandatory sentence in the case.
Several family members of both the late Jesse Carr and Barnhart, as well as friends of the men, addressed the court on behalf of Barnhart.
Carr’s father addressed the court, stating that Barnhart was like a second son to him. He asked that something positive be allowed to come from this rather than a prison sentence. Carr suggested that Barnhart be ordered to community service or go to local schools to share his story. “Prison just makes people worse,” said Carr.
Carr’s aunt had prepared a written statement which was read by Victim Advocate Theda Petrasko. The statement read in part that Carr was loyal to his friends and family, “Ride or Die as he called it.” She called the decision of both to get in the car that night a choice made by both, and something she did not condone.
All of those who spoke said that the pain of living with the fact that he killed his best friend that night was punishment enough for Barnhart. Carr’s family expressed that sending Barnhart to prison is not something that Jesse Carr would have wanted in the case.
Barnhart’s grandmother addressed the court on behalf of her grandson, stating that last week for two days the court heard a lot of negatives about him, but she wanted to share a few of his good points.
She recalled her grandson being helpful, intelligent, a good worker and funny, but having an alcohol problem.
She said that after the first or second offense she wished there was something that would have been done as an intervention or placement in treatment, which may have kept everyone from being where they were on Monday. “Maybe we wouldn’t be here with broken hearts,” she stated.
“There are no winners here no matter how this comes out,” said the grandmother. She asked that her grandson be sentenced to something where he can get the help he needs for alcoholism.
Barnhart was indicted a year ago on the charges which stemmed from a crash that occurred on Jan. 13, 2017 on State Route 143 at Horner Hill near Harrisonville.
“The vehicle Barnhart drove veered off the roadway, struck the guardrail twice, struck several mailboxes, drove through a yard, struck a utility pole and snapped it in half, and continued on further into the yard before coming to a rest. The vehicle suffered extensive damage. The passenger of the vehicle, Jesse Carr, died as a result of the crash. Barnhart’s blood alcohol content was 0.269, which is well over three times the 0.08 legal limit in the State of Ohio. At the time of the crash, Barnhart was driving under four separate driver’s license suspensions. Additionally, Barnhart had the following prior OVI convictions: 2008 in Meigs County, 2011 in Athens County, 2015 in Meigs County, and 2015 in Warren County,” read a portion of the news release on Monday from the Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.