Saturday, October 11, 2003

Man gets death sentence in murder of wife

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - In the end, Rocky Lee Barton got Friday what he said he wanted: a death sentence for fatally shooting his wife, Kimbirli Jo,before he tried to kill himself.

Warren County Common Pleas Judge Neal Bronson also sentenced Barton to eight years in prison for gun crimes related to his wife's death.

Barton declined a chance to talk at the hearing and expressed no emotion when Bronson issued the sentence. Family and friends of Kimbirli Jo Barton wept as Barton was led out of the courtroom in shackles.

His only communication with onlookers: an obscene gesture toward news cameras.

Kimbirli's daughter, Tiffany Reising, 22, of Waynesville, said "I miss her more now than I ever have," Reising said. "We all (loved) our mother more than anything. Rocky betrayed us."

Jurors convicted Barton of aggravated murder last week in the Jan.16 killing of Kimbirli, 44, outside the Wayne Township farmhouse where the couple lived.

"He was such a big part of our lives," Reising said. "This was a guy who I loved. It's been the worst nine months of our lives."

Barton could be manipulative and controlling, said Julie Reynolds, another of Kimbirli's daughters.

"It's what he deserves," Reynolds said. "I hate him. I knew what he was all about."

Kimbirli's three daughters wore buttons showing their mother's picture. Kimbirli also had a son, who wasn't able to attend the sentencing.

Against his lawyers' advice, Barton testified during the trial that he deserved to be executed for the killing.

"It's what he wanted all along," said Greg Howard, one of Barton's attorneys. "He felt that was most appropriate. We couldn't change his mind. We were faced with his decision from the beginning."

Barton becomes Warren County's second inmate on death row, joining James Galen Hanna.

Hanna was convicted of fatally stabbing his Lebanon Correctional Institution cellmate, Peter Copas, in the eye and brain with a wooden paintbrush handle in 1997.


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