The family of Stacy Barnett — father Bill Barnett, sister Cathy Barnett and mother Joyce Barnett — exit the courtroom after her murderer was sentenced in a hearing Monday. Barnett and her boyfriend, John Goosey, were killed last year.” data-c-credit=”Austin American-Statesman”>
Bill Barnett struggled to get his words out through his tears when he addressed his daughter’s killer in a Travis County courtroom Monday.
He told James Richard “Ricky” Thompson, 20, that he goes to bed wondering what his daughter Stacy’s last seconds were like and asked Thompson what he knew about her.
“Did you know she was a poet when you shot her in the face?” Barnett said from the witness stand. “Did you know she was an artist?”
Thompson, who listened from the defense table in state District Judge Julie Kocurek’s court and was not given the chance to respond, had minutes earlier pleaded guilty to killing Stacy Barnett, 22, in West Campus last year. He was sentenced to life in prison and will be eligible for parole in about 29 years.
Barnett and her boyfriend and fellow recent University of Texas graduate John Goosey, 21, were found dead at the condominium they shared on West 21st Street in July 2009. Police have said that Thompson had set out that day to kill Goosey, his marijuana supplier, to erase a drug debt. In planning the killing, Thompson told authorities, he and two co-defendants decided that if Barnett was there then she “would be killed because she knew who Thompson was,” a police affidavit said.
Prosecutor Steven Brand said Thompson has also agreed to plead guilty to murder in Goosey’s killing in exchange for a second life sentence, which would run concurrently with the first. The deal allows Thompson to avoid the more serious life without parole or death sentence that could have come with capital murder, for which he was originally indicted.
Thompson has cooperated with police since shortly after he was arrested last year, his lawyers Roy and Perry Minton said. Last week he gave a videotaped statement to police that helped them charge two co-defendants with capital murder.
Brand said that if Thompson does not testify as promised at those defendants’ trials, he would be prosecuted for capital murder.
Because Goosey’s case was not disposed, his family did not address Thompson on Monday.
Dozens of family members and friends of the couple, both originally from Houston, filled the courtroom for the hearing. Many of them cried when Stacy’s sister, Cathy Barnett, and her father spoke.
“You killed her just because she was there,” Cathy Barnett said.
She told Thompson that her parents were eagerly awaiting Stacy’s return to Houston last summer after she graduated with honors from the UT School of Architecture and said that her sister often gave to her community — volunteering at a children’s hospital, for example, and donating her hair to cancer patients.
“My sister Stacy, she had a heart. She had a huge one,” Cathy Barnett said. “I have to struggle every day to not cry in front of my 9-month-old son.”
The couple was found dead in their unit at the Preservation Square condominiums at 904 W. 21st St. and had been expected to arrive in Houston that evening to celebrate Goosey’s mother’s birthday.
Police have said that Thompson, 20, owed Goosey nearly $9,000 for marijuana that Goosey had “fronted” him and that Goosey had begun trying to collect the money.
An arrest affidavit said that Goosey called Thompson 19 times in the two days leading up to the shootings and that Thompson told a friend while watching a news report about the killings that he committed the crime.
Thompson’s parents were in court for the hearing Monday, Perry Minton said, but declined to comment. Minton said that Thompson, who attended Austin High School and then Lake Travis High School but dropped out before graduating, had sold marijuana supplied by Goosey. Minton said his client is “devastated” by his actions.
His cooperation, Minton noted, led to capital murder charges last week against Samuel Gifford, 19, and Roy Renick, 21.
Arrest affidavits said that Gifford and Renick helped plan the killings, including building a silencer for the .22 caliber handgun that was used. The affidavits said that the three spent two days preparing for the crime and rehearsed by rearranging furniture in one of their homes to replicate Goosey’s.
The documents said they also planned for Thompson to keep an “open line” on his cell phone so Gifford, who had driven Thompson to the condo, could hear the crime.
Bill Barnett said that every night when he goes to sleep, he re-creates in his mind the moment his daughter was shot.
“You know what the funeral director said?” Barnett asked, quivering. “\u2009’We tried our best, but it doesn’t look like your daughter anymore.’\u2009”
He asked Thompson whether he hated Stacy or just enjoyed killing. He said he hopes that his daughter’s memory haunts Thompson in prison.
“Every time the lights go out,” he said, “I want you to see the terror in my daughter’s face.”
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