Friday, March 17, 2000

Killer gets life, and earful from a family

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — One by one, the relatives of Patricia Ann Barrett stepped to the courtroom microphone Thursday and blasted the man who was about to be sentenced for killing her last August.

        He dumped her body in a shed on an abandoned farm.

        “You're an animal,” Ms. Barrett's sister, Pauline Lewis, said to Dustin Hendrix, who stood facing her in his orange jail jumpsuit. “You shouldn't be in prison. You should be tortured and die just like she did.”

        Mr. Hendrix, a tall, muscular man, showed no emotion, looking each in the eyes as they spoke.

        After Mr. Hendrix declined to make a statement in court, Judge Keith Spaeth of Butler County Common Pleas Court sentenced him to 16 years to life in prison, the maximum allowed by law.

        “You took the life of a person and then took steps to cover up your action,” he said to Mr. Hendrix.

        Mr. Hendrix, 30, of Hamilton, was convicted Feb. 10 of murder, felonious assault, abduction and gross abuse of a corpse.

        The body of Ms. Barrett, a 27-year-old mother of five, was discovered Aug. 15 on an abandoned farm in Oxford Township.

        The prosecution said Mr. Hendrix strangled Ms. Barrett in his car in Hamilton on Aug. 12 after she refused to have sex with him.

        During the trial, defense attorney David Kash maintained that Ms. Barrett died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and cocaine.

        “I have no explanation for what happened that night in the car,” Mr. Kash told Judge Spaeth on Thursday. He said panic and confusion caused Mr. Hendrix to hide the corpse.

        He said Mr. Hendrix was honorably discharged from the Marines after eight years of service, had no prior felony convictions and could still be “a very productive member of society.”

        But assistant prosecuting attorney Dan Gattermeyer said Mr. Hendrix repeatedly lied to police. Without the investigative work of Butler County Sheriff's Detective Frank Smith, Mr. Hendrix might never have been charged with the crimes, he said.

        Ms. Barrett's relatives told Mr. Hendrix that he had taken a beloved member of their family from them and had deprived five children of being raised by their mother.

        “You killed her and threw her in a shed like she was some piece of garbage,” another sister, Shirley Abel, said to Mr. Hendrix. “I hope you go through hell in prison and go to hell.”

        Mr. Hendrix can be considered for parole after 16 years, but Patricia Barrett's relatives vowed to do everything they could to prevent him from ever being released.

        “If he ever comes up for parole,” said Patricia Hicks, the victim's niece, “I'll be there to stare him in the eye.”


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