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Barr pleads guilty in murder case

August 02, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

pepperb@herald-mail.com

As more than 70 prospective jurors sat in another courtroom awaiting jury selection for his trial, Steven Linn Barr pleaded guilty Monday to fatally shooting William K. Grant and to wounding Cathy Myers at her Williamsport-area home Nov. 15.

On what was to be the first day of his trial in Washington County Circuit Court, Barr entered guilty pleas to charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and the use of a handgun in a crime of violence.

Barr, 42, whose last known address before his arrest was 808 Hamilton Blvd. in Hagerstown, responded to Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III's questions in a somber tone, but said little more than "yes, sir" or "no, sir" during the proceeding.

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Wright delayed sentencing Monday and ordered a pre-sentence investigation. Barr faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Myers, her family and Grant's family declined to comment after the hearing.

One of Barr's attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Brendan Callahan, would not comment after the hearing about what prompted Barr to plead guilty.

Barr's attorneys on July 22 entered a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. At a motions hearing last week, Wright told Barr's attorneys they could use insanity as a defense.

While Barr's attorneys spoke with him outside the courtroom where the jury pool waited Monday, and before Barr entered his pleas, Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael prepared for a trial. He rolled out a sheet of paper with a diagram of Myers' home and examined it on a table in front of the prospective jurors.

Sheriff's Department investigators took large brown paper bags of evidence into the courtroom. Michael asked for the murder weapon and an investigator pulled out a small box and handed it to him.

A clerk continued to call juror numbers until the case was shuffled into a smaller, nearby courtroom, while the jury pool remained seated, filling two sections of courthouse benches.

After Barr entered his pleas, and after a brief recess to excuse the jury pool, Michael presented the state's case, as part of the plea process, to Wright.

The events leading up to the Nov. 15 attacks began on Oct. 14, when Barr threatened to kill Myers, who was his ex-girlfriend, and her two young daughters, Michael said.

On Nov. 14, Grant, who was Myers' new boyfriend, spent the night. Myers locked her bedroom door, which she routinely did, and her two daughters slept elsewhere, Michael said.

At about 3:30 a.m., Myers "heard a crash and there (Barr) was," Michael said. "The defendant was in the doorway of her bedroom."

Barr had broken into the house about four hours earlier and waited for the couple to fall asleep, according to Michael and charging documents.

"The elder daughter heard the commotion and went to her mother's room, but her mom said to get out," Michael said. He said the girl's father had told her that if anything like this happened, to get her younger sister and leave.

"Ms. Myers can remember William Grant going into the bathroom, where he is found later by the (Special Response Team) face down," Michael said.

Grant was shot eight times, four times in the head, Michael said.

Michael said a bloody handprint was found on the wall of the bathroom, indicating that Barr was bracing his hand, bloodied from breaking into the house, "to steady his aim at the back of Mr. Grant's head."

Barr used a seven-shot revolver in the attacks, Michael said.

Myers, who was shot once in her head, once in the middle of her back and once in her arm, "recalls running down this hallway and going out her front door," Michael said, while pointing to a diagram of Myers' house.

"She remembers making it out of her house and her leg giving way," he said.

A Washington County Sheriff's Department deputy who was the first to reach the scene found Myers on her lawn near her driveway.

Myers recovered, but "she carries that slug in the middle of her back," Michael said.

After the attacks, Barr called "his ex-wife, his best friend and another friend," Michael said.

In one of the calls, Barr said, "I did it. I killed Cathy and her boyfriend who drives the yellow Corvette."

At about 6:15 a.m., Barr again called his ex-wife, Penny Barr. She told Barr that she was watching a segment on the local news about the shootings. Penny Barr told her ex-husband that, according to the news, "Ms. Myers was alive," Michael said.

"His response was: 'You mean to tell me I did this f---in' s--- for nothing,'" Michael said.

Barr fled to Silver Spring Township, Pa., near Harrisburg, and, after a 12-hour standoff with police Nov. 15, was taken into custody, Michael said.

Wright ordered Barr to remain held without bond at the Washington County Detention Center pending his sentencing hearing. He did not schedule a date for that hearing.

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