Law library online solicitation case ends with jurors saying 60 years
Jurors Thursday recommended the maximum sentence for a man they had convicted the day before of online solicitation of a minor charges. Joshua Barrier, 40, of Sherman, had refused to to take part in most of the four-day trial in the 15th state District Court, claiming he was too sick to be there and that he was being abused by jail staff, medical staff, the judge, people Barrier said he could not name.
Jurors took just over 30 minutes to convict Barrier after hearing from multiple young men who said Barrier had contacted them via social media and had tried to get them to meet with him. Screen shots of the social media texts showed that Barrier asked some of the young men, who were as young as 14 at the time, had been asked to send Barrier photos of their genitalia and had been sent photos of his.
On Thursday, jurors heard from one youngster who did end up meeting with Barrier in person back in 2016. The boy was just 14 at the time and said he still worries to this day about what Barrier might have done to him when he was passed out in Barrier’s apartment.
Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Matt Rolston said, Barrier “is a true sexual predator,” and Assistant GCDA Nathan Young called Barrier “a serial sexual predator.” They urged the mostly female jury to lock Barrier up for as long as possible to protect the children of Grayson County.
Jurors recommended the maximum sentence possible on each of the six charges Barrier faced. For half of those charges the maximum was ten years and for the other half the maximum was 20 years. Barrier’s attorney Rick Dunn said his client will have to serve at least 15 years before he become eligible for parole.
He was hostile, argumentative, refused to talk to me about the fact of this case. He constantly mentioned bad things happening to him in the jail,” Dunn said. He said was not concerned that Barrier was actually being mistreated. “I didn’t see anything physically wrong with him.”
Dunn got the case after Barrier had been through two other attorneys. One of those attorneys, Pamela McGraw, was so concerned about Barrier’s inability to help her with the case that she requested a competency hearing against her client’s wishes. That hearing, held late last year, resulted in a jury finding Barrier competent to stand trial. At that point, with his client’s refusal to meet with him, Dunn said the best he could do was be there to safe guard his client’s rights. Still it was no easy task considering the few times Barrier did stay in the courtroom during the trial, he refused to dress in civilian clothes and instead wore the jail issued orange jumpsuit.
At the end of the trial, Dunn tried to advise Barrier of his right to appeal the verdict and attempted to give Barrier the paperwork to do so. Barrier refused to accept the paperwork from Dunn and from jail security who attempted to give it to Barrier.
Dunn said his client had been in jail for two years and ten months by the time that he was brought to trial.
Rolston said he was happy with the jury’s decision to give Barrier the maximum.
“This defendant was a serial online sexual predator that has victimized at least one child (physically) that we know of and is a continuing danger to the community,” he said. He said Barrier’s antics in court during the trial were consistent with the way he had behaved through out all of the previous hearing in the case.
“He was on his third lawyer at this point. He’s done everything in his power thus far to try to delay these proceedings. We went through a trial on the issue of competence but ultimately this day had to come.” Rolston said.
Rolston said he thought the young men who testified during the trial about their interactions with Barrier on social media and, in some cases, in person, showed great courage. Most of them spoke about being in a low place in their lives when they were contacted by Barrier.
The prosecutor said the case shows that parents can’t be too careful when it comes to their children’s access to the internet. “It’s ultimately the responsibility of the parent to keep the child safe and be mindful of predators that are lurking on social media that hold themselves out to be something that they are not to gain access to a child and then over time exploit the child,” Rolston said.
Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith said the case against Barrier began back on January 24, 2017, when a Whitesboro mother told police her child had been communicating online with an adult, later identified as Barrier, and the messages were sexually explicit. After taking witness statements and reviewing the messages the Barrier exchanged with the minor, the investigation lead to an IP address linked to the Grayson County Law Library. During that investigation, the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office received information that an unknown individual was using the Grayson County Law Library after hours. Deputies eventually discovered Barrier in the county law library one night and saw content on the computer which raised suspicions. This part of the investigation led to a Facebook account belonging to Barrier and resulted in the Sheriff’s Office and Whitesboro PD coordinating their respective investigations.
After that initial investigation, authorities discovered multiple instances of Barrier soliciting minors for sexual purposes resulting in the multi-count indictment against him. Each instance evidenced that Barrier was grooming vulnerable teenage children, attempting to lure them into meeting him in person and offering them alcohol or drugs. Barrier also sent and received lewd images to and from the underage victims. The county law librarian who had allowed Barrier to remain in the library after hours was eventually fired for that decision.
Evidence at punishment showed the jury that Barrier providing drugs and alcohol to a 14 year old boy he had lured to his apartment, resulting in Barrier exposing himself to the teenager. Barrier had prior conviction for felony burglary and theft and had a string of misdemeanor convictions. Punishment evidence was also presented regarding drug charges currently under indictment.
Smith stated, “Although Defendant attempted through various means to postpone the fate of the guilty verdict, he was unsuccessful. The jury sent a strong message to predators who seek to harm our children… if you harm our children, you will pay with your freedom.”