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Milburn gets life sentence in slaying

February 27, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Barbara Jean Milburn, convicted in the shooting death of her lesbian lover, was sentenced to life in prison with a recommendation for mercy Thursday afternoon in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

"I feel the only thing I'm guilty of is loving too much," Milburn told Berkeley County Circuit Judge David Sanders before he imposed the sentence.

Milburn, 46, had been convicted of the June 20, 1995, shooting death of Judy Elaine Jenkins.

Milburn apologized in court for the suffering she has caused.

A Jefferson County circuit jury found Milburn guilty of first-degree murder on Dec. 23, 1996. The jury recommended mercy for Milburn.

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Milburn also was sentenced to consecutive one-year terms in prison for second-degree arson and 120 days in prison for two counts of making a false statement to police.

Sanders said she would have to serve 16 years and four months of her sentence before being eligible for parole.

A jury's recommendation of mercy in a first-degree murder case means a defendant will be eligible for parole in 15 years on that charge. No recommendation of mercy means the accused must serve life without parole, the harshest sentence in West Virginia. The state does not have a death penalty.

Sanders had heard the case when he was Jefferson County circuit judge.

In a quiet voice, Milburn, dressed in an orange prison jump suit and with shackles around her legs, said Thursday that she had been caught in the middle of a "love triangle."

At the time of her death, Jenkins was involved in a relationship with a married man, Johnson Lykens.

Milburn's defense attorneys listed more than 20 reasons they believed a new trial should be granted, including the fact that the judge did not instruct the jurors to consider a charge of voluntary manslaughter against Milburn.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson said that the charge of voluntary manslaughter did not fit the crime because it was obvious that malice was involved and that a handgun had been used.

Sanders agreed. "The evidence was we had a sleeping victim who died from a gunshot wound," Sanders said.

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