Florida: James Barnes executed – he had demanded death sentence – traumatic childhood
On Thursday night, 61-year-old James Phillip Barnes was executed by lethal injection in the U.S. state.
He was serving a life sentence for the 1997 killing of his wife when he confessed in a 2005 letter to prosecutors after converting to Islam that he was responsible for the 1988 rape and murder of a 41-year-old nurse.
Barnes waived counsel and a jury, represented himself, pleaded guilty, pleaded no mitigating circumstances and demanded the death sentence for himself. Even at the end, he waived final appeals, last meal, visits, and spiritual counsel.
James Barnes’ childhood was marked by abuse and trauma. His twin sister described one example, “My father forced us all into the living room. He would close the blinds when James supposedly did something bad, and my father would have a ‘spanking party,’ something he learned in the military. He would put a sheet over my brother’s head, take a belt, and have us all stand there and whip him. And if we didn’t whip him, we got whipped…”
As a petition for James Barnes explains, “None of the five Barnes children escaped this traumatic childhood unscathed – they all fell to addiction, suicide, mental illness or criminal behavior.”