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Accused wants trial in slaying

June 14, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Attorneys for Steven Linn Barr, who is charged with killing a man and nearly killing the man's girlfriend in November 2004, said their client still plans to go to trial despite a judge's ruling Monday that incriminating evidence they sought to suppress will be allowed at trial and a prosecution's notice that it plans to seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Barr, 42, whose last known address was 808 Hamilton Blvd., is charged with first- and second-degree murder and attempted first- and second-degree murder among a series of related charges in connection with the Nov. 15, 2004, shooting death of William Grant, 46, and the wounding of Cathy Myers, then 44, that occurred at Myers' 12057 Kemps Mill Road home near Williamsport about 3:30 a.m.

Barr's trial is scheduled for the first week of August in Washington County Circuit Court.

In a nearly two-hour suppression hearing Monday, a Sheriff's Office dispatcher, deputy and investigators testified about the way in which warrants were issued for Barr's arrest the day of the shootings. Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison, one of the attorneys representing Barr, said he wished to suppress the "fruits of his arrest." His questioning of law enforcement officials centered on when a temporary felony warrant was issued, when a formal warrant was issued and when Barr was arrested by Silver Spring Township (Pa.) Police Department officers after a nearly 12-hour standoff in their jurisdiction the day of the shootings.

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Hutchison also claimed that the search of Barr's Dodge Avenger after his arrest was supposed to be limited to clothing, but more evidence was obtained.

Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III denied all requests for suppression.

"There was ample probable cause to issue to all law enforcement agencies a notice to place into custody Mr. Barr, who had become a fugitive of justice," Wright said.

Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong entered the prosecution's notice that if Barr is convicted, it intends to seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

As the hearing concluded, Wright, standing and holding a court file, said, "What's he going to do with all this evidence against him?"

Barr's attorneys huddled around him. Maintaining the same emotionless expression he held throughout the hearing, Barr nodded his head at his attorneys who whispered to him. Sheriff's Office deputies waited nearby to take Barr to a holding cell.

Assistant Public Defender Brendan Callahan, also representing Barr, rose from the huddle and said, "At this time, he thinks that he would like to have a trial."

"All right," said Wright, who raised his brow and went back to his chambers.

Sheriff's Office Investigator Christopher Weaver testified earlier in the hearing that Barr called his ex-wife and told her he shot his ex-girlfriend, Myers, and her new boyfriend, Grant. In one conversation, Barr's ex-wife, Penny Barr, who was watching the news, told Barr that one of the victims was in critical condition and the other victim was dead.

When she told Barr that Myers was the victim in critical condition, he told her, "You mean to tell me I did this (expletive) (expletive) for nothing."

Weaver also testified that Steven Barr's best friend left his Frederick, Md., job early that day after receiving a call from Barr, who said, he "just shot two people and was going to kill himself."

Sheriff's Office Deputy 1st Class Scott Buskirk testified that he was the first to respond to the call of a domestic disturbance at Myers' home, called in by her oldest daughter.

He said he found Myers lying sideways in an embankment, covered in blood, wearing only her undergarments. Buskirk testified he wanted to move her away from the house, but instead moved his cruiser between Myers and the house because he didn't know whether the shooter was still inside.

Buskirk said Myers told him she was in her bedroom with Grant when she was awakened.

"She had been shot and her boyfriend had been shot," Buskirk testified.

When other officers cleared the house shortly after 4 a.m., they found Grant dead on the bathroom floor, Sheriff's Office Sgt. Mark Knight later testified.

Buskirk testified that Myers' daughter said her mother had taken out a protective order against Barr. Myers told Buskirk that Barr "is who shot me and my boyfriend."

Myers' daughter told Buskirk that she woke up at about 1 a.m. and saw that her mother's bedroom door was closed and then went back to sleep.

"She awoke to screaming and loud bangs," he testified. "She heard glass breaking and her mother screaming. She heard 'Don't you dare. Don't you dare. Get out of my house.'"

Myers' daughter tried "kicking at the door" but decided to get in the car with her younger sister and leave the house, Buskirk testified.

"She told me the reason she fled the house was because Barr was there one week earlier and he said he'd kill their mother, her sister and herself," Buskirk testified.

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