Kyle Barnhill sentenced for wife's slaying

By Taylor Hemness - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KLTV) - Less than seven months after pulling the trigger, an East Texas man has been sentenced to life in prison.

Kyle Barnhill of Nacogdoches shot his wife back in March, while she stood in her kitchen cooking for their two young children. It took an East Texas jury less than an hour to decide his punishment.

"He knew what he was doing," said Nacogdoches District Attorney Nicole Lostracco. "It was evil, not insane."

Lostracco described the night that Kyle Barnhill waited outside his estranged wife's home, and shot her through her kitchen window with a rifle. It sent shockwaves through the neighborhood.

"It kind of bothers you, you know that something this close from home happens to you like people like that right down the street from you," said neighbor Kenneth Shotwell. "Which I know it's happening all around the country now, but it hits close to home when it happens three or four houses next to you."

Barnhill was questioned by police that night, but not arrested. A week later, on the day that Melissa was buried, police caught Kyle, in the south Texas town of Eagle Pass, not far from the Mexico border. He was flown back to East Texas, and charged with murder. While he was in jail in Nacogdoches, he offered a shocking confession, on a phone call with KTRE's Jena Johnson.

Jena Johnson, reporter: "Did you kill Melissa Barnhill or have anything to do with her death?"

Kyle Barnhill, on the phone: "Yes, I did...but if any act of violence from a personal note."

Kyle Barnhill: "Uh, I was not in my right mind and I truly believe the insanity defense will be totally [implacable] and my mental state of mind is not good now."

Barnhill's attorney said that the admission was proof that he was mentally ill, and his defense was built around the idea that Barnhill was not in his right mind when he shot his wife. The jury didn't agree.

Barnhill's defense attorney Bill Agnew would not comment about any appeal.

The sentence also included a $10,000 fine.

Kyle Barnhill will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

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