Summary:

Paragraph 36 reads:  "Kyle Barnhill said he felt his upcoming divorce came as a surprise, and he realized it was just a couple months from being final. He also said the couple had filed bankruptcy and he was off his antidepressant medication. He claimed Melissa Barnhill was having a relationship with another man and he missed his children."


http://www.ktre.com/Global/story.asp?S=11239436#

Jury finds Kyle Barnhill guilty of murdering his wife

Posted: Oct 01, 2009 10:09 AM CDT Updated: Oct 01, 2009 5:49 PM CDT

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Confessed killer Kyle Barnhill testified that "ironclad and irrefutable evidence" had been presented this week in his murder trial.  Apparently, the jury agreed.  The eight-man, four-woman panel has found Barnhill guilty in the shooting death of his estranged wife.

It took them less than 30 minutes to review the charge, deliberate and return a guilty verdict.

The trial is now in the sentencing phase, where he can get up to 99 years in prison. Sentence hearings are expected to last until Friday.

After taking the stand against his own attorney's advice, Kyle Barnhill admitted in open court Thursday in the fourth day of his murder trial to killing his wife Thursday afternoon in the fourth day of his murder trial.

"On March 11, 2009, you shot your wife," Assistant Defense Attorney Lee Westmoreland said.

"Yes," Kyle Barnhill said.

"You ended her life," Westmoreland said.

"Yes," Kyle Barnhill said.

Kyle Barnhill kept insisting he was insane at the time, which was a non-issue as District Judge Ed Klein would not allow him to enter an insanity plea.

"We've sat through almost four days of evidence and most of this evidence is new to me and it's got to be the most stupid act in criminal history or something was seriously going on in my head," he said.

LoStracco gave a brief closing argument and Agnew had no closing statement before Judge Ed Klein read the charge and sent the jury to deliberate.

Melissa Barnhill's father, James Kesinger, was the first witness during the punishment phase of the trial.

He described his daughter as a blessing because until Melissa was born in 1970 they had only had sons and his wife dearly wanted a daughter. He said he even prayed to the Lord that his wife would have a girl and that she was an active and smart child.

He said Melissa's mother was diagnosed with cancer when Melissa was 9 years old and she went back and forth with her parents to Houston for her mother's treatment.  That experience, he believes is what made her want to be a nurse and help people.

Kesinger tearfully described how Melissa was happiest when she was helping other people. He said she was a good mother and she loved her children very much. He recalled how his youngest granddaughter had been visiting his house with a friend and she proudly pointed to a framed picture on the wall saying "That's my momma." He said he regrets that's all his granddaughter will ever have in her life, a picture of her mother.

Kessinger said he was very angry with Kyle Barnhill and he said that was putting it mildly.

He said he was not aware that of his daughter's troubled marriage until about two weeks before she was murdered when Melissa Barnhill had told him she was getting a divorce.  He said he thought she had kept her troubles to herself.

He said on the night she was murdered he had been waiting on her to bring him some medicine for a cough he had developed after catching pneumonia.

"She hadn't come by 8, so I called and left a message," Kesinger said. "She never called."

Kesinger said he received a call about 10 p.m. saying that she had been killed.

"That's the first I knew trouble had been going on," he said.

Agnew asked whether Kyle Barnhill had worked and supported his wife while she was pursuing her nursing degree and career and Kesinger said yes.

They must decide whether Kyle Barnhill "intentionally or knowingly caused the death of an individual," Melissa Barnhill.

Kyle Barnhill smiled at times, and rambled a lot, making it hard to understand what he was saying. Klein asked him to answer only the questions he was asked.

Kyle Barnhill said he has been evaluated by a psychiatrist since his incarceration, and is in lockdown for passing a note to a jail employee asking to assist him in an escape.

He said he did not blame his wife, Melissa Barnhill, for their upcoming divorce, but her attorney, Jim LoStracco, although he did not assign full blame to him.

The state took Kyle Barnhill through the case again, beginning when he bought the alleged murder weapon to when he was captured in Eagle Pass.

"My children didn't on that day really enter into my thoughts a lot, obviously," he said.

He said his e-mail asking his grown daughter for money was so that he could return to East Texas, saying he did not want to be a fugitive.

During rebuttal questioning, Agnew asked him when the severity of the crime hit him.

"... In fact, I'm not totally certain that the severity has hit me yet," he said.

"I cannot fathom that I did this," he said.

Defense Attorney Bill Agnew had Kyle Barnhill make it clear that he was testifying despite Agnew's urging him not to and that once on the stand he could not "cherry pick" his questions.

Barnhill explained because he was upset his daughter had to take the stand after the jury was "listening to ironclad irrefutable evidence."

Agnew tried to make the best of the situation by having Kyle Barnhill explain his state of mind during the days surrounding Melissa Barnhill's murder.

Kyle Barnhill said he felt his upcoming divorce came as a surprise, and he realized it was just a couple months from being final. He also said the couple had filed bankruptcy and he was off his antidepressant medication. He claimed Melissa Barnhill was having a relationship with another man and he missed his children.

"If you knew the whole story, in hindsight, it explains itself much better," he said.

Agnew asked Barnhill what he did after he got off work on the day of Melissa Barnhill's murder.

"I drove to Bullard," Barnhill said.

"Why?" Agnew asked.

"To purchase a gun," Barnhill said.

Barnhill expressed disappointment in the defense attorney's decision to have the couple's daughter take the stand, saying she should not have to "relive that incident" and condemn her father.

On the stand, Kyle Barnhill admitted to doing things that could have been taken as threats to both his wife and her divorce attorney.

The state will question Kyle Barnhill after today's lunch break.

Before Kyle Barnhill's testimony, their 11-year-old daughter took the stand for the state. She explained how she witnessed the death of her mother.

The daughter, who cried through the whole testimony, explained how their neighbor, Tom Brainard, had taken her and her then four-year-old sister home from Wednesday night church and she was reading a book. She said Melissa Barnhill had been making a corn dog for herself then "I heard glass shatter and I went and [my sister] started yelling [my name."

"I thought she'd dropped a plate and she was in trouble," the daughter said.

She said her sister wouldn't stop bugging her and she then thought her mom had accidentally slipped. That was when she said she tried to call people she knew but when they would not answer the phone she opened the garage door and started screaming.

"I got a towel and started to try and stop the bleeding," the girl said.

She said she did not realize her mother had been shot until Brainard, who came to see what happened, told 9-1-1 that she had been shot.

LoStracco asked the girl if she suspected who had shot her mother.

"I kinda thought my dad did it."

The daughter said she had blood on ther hands and refused to wash it off, because she felt that was all she had left of her. She asked her neighbors to take a picture of her hands before washing them.

During her testimony, a few members of the jury and several in the audience could be seen wiping tears from their eyes.

A KTRE reporter detailed the April conversation she had with Kyle Barnhill in which he confessed to murdering his wife in Thursday morning testimony.

Jena Johnson said Barnhill contacted KTRE through a letter requesting to share his side of the story. She said she requested through the sheriff's office an on-camera interview, which was denied, so they worked out a telephone interview.

"We arranged for him to call our station, and he did," Johnson said.

In the taped interview, which was played for the jury, Barnhill confessed to killing his wife. The jury showed no obvious reaction when the confession was played.

Before Johnson's testimony, District Judge Ed Klein told both sides Johnson could only testify on published information.

Johnson testified she had covered the case since the day after the murder, but was pulled off coverage after she had been subpoenaed to appear in court.

Much of the morning testimony in Day 4 of the Kyle Barnhill murder trial came from the forensic scientist who analyzed the Russian rifle believed to have killed Melissa Barnhill.

Wade Thomas, a 10-year veteran of forensic science, said the weapon used had characteristics that aided a gunman's accuracy. He said the rifle was typically used by the Russian and Soviet nation during 1891-1946 primarily as an infrantry man's rifle. Thomas also discussed the ammunition used for this type of weapon (7.62 x 54r), basically a .30 rifle primarily with a bullet of cartridge propulsion of 2500 feet per second with accuracy beyond.

Crime scene photos and Nacogdoches Police analysis of the crime scene indicate the person that shot Melissa Barnhill was standing or crouched in a field near a wooded area behind her house when the fatal shot was fired through her kitchen window.

Assistant District Attorney Lee Westormoreland referred to the gun as an "instrument of war" and Thomas agreed.

Andrew McWhorter, a DPS crime lab forensic scientist of DNA, said he tested a glove found following the murder to see if it matched up with Kyle Barnhill. He said tests could not rule out Kyle Barnhill as having used the glove.

Kyle Barnhill is on trial for the March shooting death of his estranged wife, Melissa Barnhill, while she was cooking dinner for their children.

Melissa Barnhill's 11-year-old daughter, who witnessed her mother's death, will testify this morning, the last witness the prosecution will call before handing over to the defense.

You can follow KTRE's coverage of the Barnhill murder trial here at KTRE.com throughout the day and on the East Texas News.

Below are excerpts from the interview Johnson had with Kyle Barnhill:

Jena Johnson, Reporter: "Did you kill Melissa Barnhill or have anything to do with her death?"

Kyle Barnhill: "Yes, I did".

Kyle Barnhill: "Uh, I was not in my right mind and I truly believe the insanity defense will be totally implicable and my mental state of mind is not good now."

Jena Johnson, reporter: "Is there anything you want to say to the community, to your family, to Melissa Barnhill's family?"

Kyle Barnhill: "First, I'd like to just say that I'm very regretful and remorseful of everything."

Jail Recording:"FROM THE NACOGDOCHES COUNTY JAIL"

Kyle Barnhill: "As well as you know that way it's affected her family, my family, my church, my children's school, the community itself, um..."

Jail Recording:"FROM THE NACOGDOCHES COUNTY JAIL"

Kyle Barnhill: "There were many things that really put me in the state of mind, I would like for that to come out at trial."

Kyle Barnhill: "I was wanting to say that ... father and brother, and you know, as you can imagine the pain that they're going through and I do pray that God is comforting them. Um, the act of violence that I have personal knowledge of."

Jena Johnson, reporter: "Have you seen or been able to talk to your children or do you have any kind of family support right now?"

Kyle Barnhill: "I talk to my older three children. One lives in Washington D.C. and the other two in Indiana, they are very supportive."

Jail Recording:"FROM THE NACOGDOCHES COUNTY JAIL"

Kyle Barnhill: "I talked to my Mom and Dad, they are very supportive; however, the people that have my children, uh, I guess prefer my children to think that I'm dead as well because I've tried to make...."

Jail Recording:"FROM THE NACOGDOCHES COUNTY JAIL"

Kyle Barnhill: "...contact with them and to no avail."

Kyle Barnhill: "I'd just like to say you know that I'm regretful and sorry for all that has happened. The uh, the hurt and pain that uh Melissa's family is living through as well as my family is indescribable."

Jail Recording:"FROM THE NACOGDOCHES COUNTY JAIL"

Kyle Barnhill: I'm really, uh, especially for our two small children, they're both very precious to me. In my heart."