Matricide trial reset for Aug. 9

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Son accused of using pipe to strike mother

By Damon Lawrence

A man accused of bludgeoning his mother to death will have to wait a little while longer before seeing a jury.
Milford Barnett was scheduled to stand trial on Wednesday for the murder of Pearl Barnett, but the case was reset for Aug. 9 because a key witness was unavailable.
The case has been pending for more than four years. Officers responded to Milford Barnett’s home at 703 Black Jack Road in Rockwood on April 18, 2007.
“At the scene, victim Pearl Barnett was unresponsive and appeared to have multiple injuries to her head and hand,” a court affidavit states.
Milford Barnett was taken to the Roane County Jail for questioning. The affidavit said he admitted to striking his mother in the head with a pipe.
General Sessions Court Judge Jeff Wicks later ordered Barnett to undergo a mental evaluation.
“After completion of the evaluation, it was concluded that at the time of the alleged offenses, Mr. Barnett was suffering from a mental disease or defect,” the mental examiner determined. “However, it is my opinion that this illness did not impair his ability to appreciate the nature of the wrongfulness of his actions.”
Prosecutors continued with the case and Barnett was indicted for second-degree murder in February 2008. Court records said Barnett admitted hitting his mother in the head with the pipe, but claimed the blow was meant for another man who he was fighting with at the time.
Earlier this year, Barnett’s attorney filed a motion seeking information about an individual name Shawn Dennison.
“This individual is believed to have been present at the scene of the alleged offenses and was later, the same day, present at the Roane County Jail where he had contact with law enforcement,” the motion stated. “These materials are material to the preparation of Barnett’s defense.”
In its response to the motion, the state said it had no information of any kind that a Shawn Dennison was at the crime scene or at the Roane County Jail on the day of the alleged crime. The state provided a list of all people booked into the jail from April 11, 2007 to April 25, 2007.
“The name of a ‘Shawn Dennison,’ or anyone even close to that name does not appear on the listing,” the prosecution wrote.
The defense also made a request for any video from the jail that would show inmates arriving and being booked on April 18, 2007. The county opened a new jail in 2009.
A letter from Roane County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Robert Anderson said all video and audio data from the old jail prior to 2009 is unrecoverable due to damage sustained during a lightning storm. That required the installation of a new DVR system, Anderson said.