Barnum trial day 4: Father testifies against son, talks 2016 shooting

By Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Judge Jim Fallon arrives for court in the Robert Allen murder trial where Timothy Barnum has been charged with murder. The trial continued April 9, 2021.

Jurors in Timothy Barnum’s trial on murder charges in the October 2017 shooting death of Robert Allen got a crash course in cell phone forensics and family dynamics Thursday evening and Friday morning.

Tim Barnum has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Jurors heard from a number of witnesses who worked either for cell phone service providers or law enforcement agencies who explained what can and can’t be found in cell phone records.

In the end, the jurors knew that while cell phones can be traced to general locations with specific regions by cell towers, those locations are not as specific as GPS coordinates. Also, the records from cell phone service providers show which devices are communicating with each other and when but not the specifics of the communications.

Those specifics come into play when law enforcement investigators employ computer programs that retrieve data from the phones and pull it into a program that allows them to search for specifics. With those programs, law enforcement can sometimes get a look at actually text message conversations as well as photos, videos, records of websites visited and programs used on the devices.

The jurors were told investigators can even sometimes retrieve things that the user deleted depending upon whether or not they have been over written or not.

Grayson County District Attorney Investigator Mike Ditto arrives for court for the Barnum murder trial on April 9, 2021.

Most of those tricks of the trade don’t allow them to prove specifically who was using the device and that information has to be proven in another way, witnesses testified.

With the cell phone tutorial out of the way Friday morning, prosecutors returned to the topic of the shooting they say links Tim Barnum to Robert Allen’s death.

Grayson County’s First Assistant Attorney Kerye Ashmore called Tim Barnum’s father, Herman Barnum to the stand.

Ashmore then spent a good deal of time having to repeat everything Herman Barnum said so the jury could hear because the man spoke so softly through a mask and behind a Plexiglass screen.

Herman Barnum took the jury back through the night in August of 2016 when his son, Tim Barnum, shot him in the hip. More over, Herman Barnum told jurors that his son had asked him “to take him out,” referring to Robert Allen.

Herman Barnum testified that he had refused his son’s request to get involved in the plan to get rid of Allen so often that by the time Tim Barnum shot Herman Barnum in August of 2016, they were not getting along. He told Tim Barnum if he wanted Allen dead, he should do it himself.

Prosecutors Kerye Ashmore and Nathan Young arrive for court in the Robert Allen murder trial 
 on April 9, 2021.

He said on that August night he had gone to Tim Barnum’s house to talk with him about their relationship, and when he arrived, Tim Barnum came out and told him to get out of the car. When Herman Barnum did so, he testified Tim Barnum started shooting. As Herman Barnum got back in the car, he said two more shots were fired by his son and one of them hit Herman Barnum in the hip.

Ashmore asked Herman Barnum why he didn’t go to a local hospital or tell the local police about the shooting. The father said he had done time in the federal penitentiary on a weapons charge. He didn’t want that for himself or his son. So, he went to Durant, Oklahoma where he told the hospital workers that he and Tyrone Sommers, who also faces a murder charge in Robert Allen’s death, were driving in Durant when some white guys pulled up and started shooting at them.

Herman Barnum said he left the hospital without getting the bullet removed because he had an uncle who had died there. He didn’t trust the medical attention he would get there.

He said the Durant police impounded the dark blue Mustang that they had taken to Durant, and Sommers called a girl to pick them up.

Ashmore then turned his attention to the October 31, 2017 shooting at Allen Plumbing. He asked Herman Barnum how he found out about Robert Allen’s death. Herman Barnum said he had gone to visit a friend in that area when he saw the police tape around the building. The friend advised him someone had killed Robert Allen.

Timothy Barnum

Herman Barnum said sometime after that, he was driving down Broughton Street in Sherman when he saw Tyrone Sommers in the front yard of a house that belonged to Tim Barnum. He saw a red Cadillac in the drive that belonged to his son. When he asked Sommers how he got those things, Herman Barnum said Sommers told him Tim Barnum gave them to him.

When asked why those gifts were given, Herman Barnum said Sommers replied, “I busted him,” referring to Robert Allen.

Herman Barnum then described Sommers as saying that Tim Barnum and his girlfriend dropped Sommers off at Allen Plumbing on October 31, 2017. Sommers went around to the back part of the building. He said Sommers said Allen was sitting at a desk playing a game. When he heard a noise, he got up and that was when Sommers shot him.

Herman Barnum said Sommers then went to a car wash where he was picked up by Tim Barnum and that same girlfriend.

Prosecutors contend that the bullets pulled from Robert Allen match one pulled from the car Herman Barnum was in when he was shot in 2016. Tyrone Sommers had told him that Tim Barnum had asked Sommers to kill Allen, Herman Barnum testified.

Robert Allen's family and friends pray outside the west courtroom at the Grayson County Courthouse Tuesday as the trial man accused of killing Allen got underway.

Herman Barnum said he told Sommers to stay out of that because it was just like a soap opera and would pass.

Tim Barnum’s defense attorney Laura Andrade asked if he had been charged with perjury in relation to his statements about this case, and he said he had.

Prosecutors were expected to wrap up their case Friday afternoon.