Barnes pleads guilty to murder

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The capital murder trial of Cearic Barnes ended early Tuesdaywhen he pleaded guilty to murder shortly before 11 a.m.

Barnes, 19, of 830 Beauregard St., was accused of capital murderand arson in connection with the June 18, 2002, death of MarvinDurr. Durr’s body was found inside his burned car that morning onSouth Washington Street outside the city limits.

In return for the guilty plea, the capital murder charge waslowered to murder and the arson charge will not be pursued.

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Barnes escaped a sentence of life without parole by lowering theplea from capital murder to murder. Convicted of murder, Barneswill serve life in prison with a possibility of parole at age65.

Tears rolled down Barnes face as he entered the guilty plea.

An Adams County jury was to begin hearing testimony today in thetrial after a slow day during the selection process Monday.

A jury was chosen in Adams County after a defense motion forchange of venue was granted. Prosecutors are seeking the deathpenalty, and questioning 126 prospective jurors on that aspect ofthe trial took much of the day, court officials said.

“It was slow,” said Bill Barnett, Barnes’ attorney. “We had totake a lot of time to death-qualify the jurors.”

Death-qualifying jurors is the process of determining if theywould be able to listen and fairly weigh evidence and then make adecision based on the court instructions given. Barnett said jurorswere later asked general trial-related questions, and a jury waschosen by shortly after 8 p.m.

The mostly female jury, composed of 10 white and two blackmembers, was then brought to Lincoln County where they will besequestered at a Brookhaven hotel for the duration of the trial.Two alternate jurors were also chosen.

“They’re going to give both sides a chance to put on evidence,”Barnett said of the jury. “I think they’ll make a fair decisionbased on the evidence, testimony and instructions that are given tothem.”

If Barnes is convicted, the jury would then decide whether thedeath penalty is warranted. The other possible sentence in the caseis life without parole.

Court officials expect the trial to last three or four days.

A co-defendant, Jerrard T. Cook, 19, of 2123 Madison Road,pleaded guilty to capital murder in November. Cook, believed tohave been the gun man in the shooting, is among witnesses expectedto testify in Barnes’ trial.