Barnum found guilty of 2017 shooting death of Robert Allen, gets life sentence
After jurors deliberated for just an hour on Monday before convicting Timothy Barnum of murder in the October 31, 2017 shooting death of Robert Allen in Denison, those same jurors took about the same amount of time to decide to send Barnum to prison for life.
The 49-year-old will have to serve at least 30 years before he is eligible for parole.
First Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Kerye Ashmore said he was satisfied with the sentence.
"The verdict is justified," he said. "This was a hard working jury. We moved through about 45 witnesses and they received a lot of information over the past six or seven days and the facts that were presented equaled guilt and I don't think there was much question about in the jury's mind what needed to be done. This defendant has worked hard to wind up with a life sentence."
Ashmore's remark about Barnum working hard at going to prison for life referenced the testimony that Barnum shot his own father with the gun that authorities say was used to kill Robert Allen. Barnum also went to prison once before for attempted murder. He also had two other attempted murder charges: one incident ending in a conviction and another a guilty plea. He had also been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon twice.
Prosecutors contend Barnum didn't act alone in the killing of Robert Allen who was the father of Barnum's former girlfriend. They contended that Barnum had help killing Allen from Tyrone Sommers and wanted Allen dead because Barnum thought Allen was pushing his daughter to testify against Barnum in domestic violence cases that were pending at the time of the murder.
Tuesday, Ashmore said the charge of murder is still pending against Sommers. There is not a trial date set yet, but Ashmore anticipates it will be set soon.
"This was a very difficult case," he said. "There were a lot of moving parts to it. It was a circumstantial case. Denison Police Department, Detective (John) Watt, Texas Ranger Brad Oliver, all did a really good job and the team that we put together in the D.A.'s Office of Nathan Young, Sandye Brown, Mike Ditto were very diligent. We spent hundred of hours on this case and this is just a good example of very fine team work."
Ashmore said they prepared the case for trial a number of times for a couple of reasons. The first of which was Barnum fired or attempted to fire his attorney several times as the case neared a trial date. The other was the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Obviously in the past year, it would have been very very difficult to get this tried," he said adding that it was still challenging to go through with the trial in light of all of the COVID-19 precautions like face masks and social distancing for the jurors.
"But this is the second murder case we have tried since November and I anticipate that we will continue to it with the same protocol until other people in Austin decide we don't have to anymore."
Barnum's attorney Laura Andrade said the COVID-19 protocol did make things more challenging saying the masks made it harder for people to have face-to-face exchanges and the masks plus the Plexiglas made it harder for people to hear.
"But at the same time I think we got it done fairly," she added that while she and her client disagreed with the decisions made by the jury, they accept them as a product of deliberations. She doesn't know at this point who will represent Barnum should he appeal the verdict or sentence.
She said she very much appreciated the chance to practice law in Grayson County and called it a "beautiful city, wonderful county."
In her closing arguments before the jury in the penalty phase of the trial, she had asked the jury to sentence him on the lighter end of the penalty range.
In his closing argument, Ashmore reminded jurors they heard testimony that back in 2017, Timothy Barnum was facing two domestic assault charges that were getting ready to go to trial. The victim in both of those cases was Amanda Allen with whom Timothy Barnum shares a child.
And, Robert Allen was killed because he was encouraging Amanda Allen to not drop those charges. If convicted of those charges, Ashmore said Barnum knew he would have up to life in prison.
Testimony during the punishment phase of the trial revealed Barnum had previously been convicted of two attempted murder charges and two aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges.
During his opening in the punishment phase, Ashmore said Barnum was a "career criminal" who needed to be sent to prison for the rest of his life.