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Appeals court denies killer's application to appeal plea

September 27, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN - The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has denied a Hagerstown man's application to appeal his guilty plea and eventual sentence of life plus 30 years for a November 2004 murder and attempted murder, according to court documents.

Steven Linn Barr, 43, claimed in his application that his guilty pleas for the murder of William Grant and the attempted murder of Cathy Myers were "directly induced by the promise (he) would receive life plus twenty years," as opposed to life plus 30 years for the Nov. 15, 2004, crime.

The Court of Special Appeals' unreported opinion filed Sept. 20 states that it denied Barr the leave to appeal based on his application, which was filed Nov. 21, 2005, in Washington County Circuit Court.

Barr broke into Myers' Kemps Mill Road home Nov. 14, 2004, and hid in her garage for more than three hours before breaking into the bedroom where Myers, who had previously dated Barr, and Grant slept, according to charging documents. He shot Grant to death and fired at Myers, who managed to escape the house seriously wounded at about 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 15 as her two daughters fled the house unscathed, police have said.

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At Barr's Oct. 5, 2005, sentencing hearing, Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong said Barr planned the crime for two weeks, marked by the purchase of tools he used to break into the house.

Barr pleaded guilty Aug. 1, 2005, to first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. His plea came on what was to be the first day of his trial.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III granted Barr the possibility of parole for his sentence, saying that by entering the guilty pleas, Barr spared the families involved from a weeklong trial.

Wright told Barr at his sentencing hearing that he would likely first be eligible for parole when he is about 67 years old.

In Barr's supplement to his application for leave to appeal from the guilty plea, Barr claimed he "was completely taken by surprise by the imposition of life plus 30 years." He claimed he understood there were negotiations among his attorneys and Wright for life plus 20 years.

Barr also claimed he was not told that had he gone to trial, he would have had the right to testify, according to the supplement, filed June 16, 2006.

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