By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - The man who recorded a rap video glorifying his wife's killing and said he did it "O.J. style, without the white Bronco" was convicted of murder Wednesday.
Kenton County jurors also recommended Dennis Greene Sr., 31, of Lakeside Park serve a sentence of life in prison for the May 4 death of Tara Barrett Greene, his 28-year-old wife who was a math teacher at Holmes High School. Under Kentucky's sentencing guidelines, Greene will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
Greene was not eligible for the death penalty because, prosecutors concluded, the crime did not meet one of eight aggravating circumstances that can lead to a death sentence in Kentucky.
Tara's parents, Robert and Karen Barrett, told jurors what impact the killing had on their lives before a courtroom filled with teary-eyed onlookers.
"Tara and I were two peas in a pod," said Karen Barrett from the stand. "She and I would finish each other's sentences. I loved her and she loved me. We shared so much."
Karen Barrett, who works in the field of education, said she was proud her daughter had decided to pursue a similar career.
It took the jury of five men and seven women four hours to reach the verdict. The jury heard four days of testimony that ranged from heart-wrenching to bizarre.
The jurors rejected Greene's defense that he acted under extreme emotional distress and therefore was less culpable for the crime.
They accepted Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Christy Muncy's claim that Greene left work early on the day of the homicide with the intention of killing his wife and fleeing to his native Chicago.
On Friday, Dennis and Tara Greene's son, Chi'An, took the stand to say he witnessed his father choking his mother the day she died.
"I saw daddy choking mommy," the 7-year-old said. "I watched five minutes."
The boy then described the chokehold and seeing his mother on her knees with her eyes closed and gasping for air.
Muncy said during closing arguments that she prayed Chi'An didn't see his father slit Tara's throat. After she failed to show up at work, Tara was found lying in a pool of blood in the couple's kitchen. Her head, which was nearly separated by one slash of a carving knife, was covered by one of Chi'An's blankets.
On Tuesday, the prosecution played clips from five profanity-laced videotapes of Greene drinking and smoking marijuana while on the run in Chicago. Much of the tapes were inaudible, but it was clear Greene was singing a rap song about murder, being on the run and life after death.
At one point, in what Greene described as free-style rapping, he said: "I did the crime, I ain't doing the time."
At one point in the videos, he said: "I cut her (expletive) neck with a sword."
Muncy told the jury that was an exaggeration.
"Not only did he (Greene) victimize me, he victimized Chi'An," said Karen Barrett. "Chi'An lost his mother to death, lost his dad to prison, and lost his innocence."
Karen Barrett said Chi'An even lost her as a grandmother since she has to now act as Chi'An's mother. The Barretts have custody of the child.
Karen Barrett said, however, that the worst is when she puts Chi'An to bed at nights and the child says: "I really, really, really miss my mom. Do you too?"
Robert Barrett said the death of his only daughter has caused him to "remodel his life."
He said he has gone from planning his retirement to worrying about paying to send another child through college.
"We feel as if a light has gone out in our lives," he said from the stand. "Her death has left a hole that can never be filled."
Kenton Circuit Judge Douglas Stephens will sentence Greene Dec. 15. Stephens can follow the jury's recommendation or sentence Greene on a lesser charge. Law prevents him from imposing a tougher sentence than the jury recommended.
Public defender Mary Rafizadeh, who helped defend Greene, says she will appeal.
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