Teen guilty in stabbing 16 year-old killed his friend

April 30, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 16-year-old Millersville youth was convicted of involuntar manslaughter yesterday in the stabbing death of a teen-age friend last October, during a dispute that began with an argument over a flattened bicycle tire.

Steven Calvin Barrett Jr., of the 8300 block of Brookwood Road, who dropped out of school in the ninth grade and spends most of his time working on the family's 10-acre farm, showed no emotion as the verdict was announced, but family members seated behind him shouted "Praise God."

The verdict means the Circuit Court jury of seven women and five men, who debated about two hours, found Barrett guilty of "grossly negligent conduct" that resulted in the death of Charles H. "Chucky" Cross, 16, of the 8300 block of Oakwood Road in Millersville.

It also means he faces up to 10 years in prison. State sentencing guidelines, which include such factors as whether it is an offender's first crime and the type of weapon used, recommend a one- to six-year prison term.

Judge Martin A. Wolff set sentencing for June 10 and agreed to let the youth remain under house arrest at an uncle's West Virginia farm until sentencing.

The verdict was seen largely as a victory by the defendant, his attorney's and his parents, who sat with their hands intertwined yesterday as the jury's decision was announced.

Barrett faced life in prison, because he had been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in the death.

"The Lord was with us. I never lost faith and neither did he," said the defendant's mother, Catherine Barrett, who sat clutching a family Bible throughout most of the three-day trial.

According to testimony, Barrett rushed out of his girlfriend's house shortly before 8 p.m. on Oct. 6, 1992, and pushed the victim, who had been arguing with his girlfriend and another neighbor. The victim then knocked Barrett to the ground.

Testimony focused mostly on whether the Barrett youth intentionally stabbed the victim during the struggle that followed.

Assistant Public Defender Mark Blumberg emphasized that the stabbing occurred in the midst of a fight in which the defendant was getting "pummeled."

He also emphasized that there was no motive and that none of the four people who were standing nearby on the 200 block of Poplar Road actually saw the knife going into the victim's chest.

"It's absurd that this case has gone this far," Mr. Blumberg said.

In an hour of testimony, Barrett said he only brought the knife out of his girlfriend's house that night because he was afraid of the victim's friend, John Chadwick, a neighborhood youth who was nearby at the time.

Two weeks before the stabbing, Barrett testified, Chadwick had approached him with three friends, argued with him and challenged him to a fight.

In a barely audible monotone, Barrett said that he was good friends with Chucky Cross, didn't remember stabbing him, is still unsure how it happened and still has dreams about it.

"I dream about it a lot. I dream that it never happened and that we're still friends," he said.

Assistant State's Attorney Frank Ragione countered that Barrett brought the knife ready to use it if he had to -- on John Chadwick.

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