Friday, December 14, 2007

Inmate gets death penalty after confessing


VIERA — A Brevard judge today sentenced convicted murderer James Phillip Barnes to death for the 1988 beating, rape and murder of a local nurse whose home he set on fire to cover up the incident.

He joins 12 other Brevard County inmates currently on death row.

Barnes, 45, was serving life in prison for the 1997 killing of his wife, Linda Barnes, when he confessed to the earlier murder of Patricia Miller at her River Oaks Apartment.

According to court testimony, Barnes stripped before removing a window to enter Miller’s apartment. Once inside, Miller watched her watch television before threatening her with a knife and sodomizing, strangling and beating her with a hammer in her bedroom. He cleaned the apartment and set it on fire to conceal any evidence.

In addition to death, Circuit Judge Lisa Davidson sentenced Barnes to three more consecutive life sentences for burglary and two counts of sexual battery in connection with the April 20, 1988, killing. He will also given a consecutive 30-year term for arson.

All the sentences will be served concurrently with the 1997 life sentence, prosecutors said.

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