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Man's wife forgives, jury won't

April 25, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

A Smithsburg man who admitted he was too drunk to really know if he beat up his fiancee last August failed to convince a Washington County Circuit Court jury of his innocence.

Harry O. Barr, 32, of 69 Johnson's Terrace, was sentenced Monday to one year in the Washington County Detention Center for the second-degree assault of Pamela Dunbar Barr, who is now his wife. The jury returned a guilty verdict in less than 10 minutes.

"I'm tired of the life of an alcoholic," Barr said, pleading with Circuit Judge Donald Beachley not to put him in jail.

Beachley said jail was necessary in light of Barr's prior criminal record.

"I take no pleasure putting you in jail but you have two prior batteries and two violations of ex parte orders ... I can't slap you on the wrist like your wife wants," Beachley said.

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During the trial, in which Barr served as his own attorney, the jury was shown pictures of Pamela Dunbar Barr taken Aug. 15, the day after the incident at the home they still share.

Two black eyes and a broken nose were clearly visible in the pictures taken by police. She was hospitalized because of those injuries.

When police arrived that night at the Barr home, both Pamela Dunbar Barr and the defendant told officers that there had been a fight and that Harry Barr had hit her when each began taunting the other about previous relationships.

In court Monday, Pamela Dunbar Barr testified that despite her contention that she had an alcoholic blackout that night, she now remembered that her injuries occurred when she rolled over in her waterbed and hit her nose on the wood frame.

Under questioning by her husband, Pamela Dunbar Barr admitted that a previous boyfriend once pulled a knife on her and that incident didn't end up in court as this one did.

Smithsburg Police Officer Michael Neuland and Washington County Sheriff's Deputy David Izat were called to the Barr home the night of the fight.

Both testified they heard Barr say he hit the victim and Pamela Dunbar Barr screaming that he hit her.

In his closing argument to the jury, Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Bill Hayden said the state is trying to protect Pamela Dunbar Barr from domestic violence.

But both the victim and the defendant faulted the state for taking the matter to court even after Pamela Dunbar Barr tried repeatedly to have the charge dropped.

"All the state has is hearsay ... my wife says it didn't happen," Barr said in his closing remarks.

The jury was out less than 10 minutes before returning with a guilty verdict to the only count.

Beachley authorized treatment for Barr in the Jail Substance Abuse Program.

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