Oklahoma Man Gets 32 Years for Shooting Process Server

TULSA, Okla. (CN) — An Oklahoma man who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018 was sentenced Friday to 32 years in state prison for shooting a process server who was trying to give him notice of a civil lawsuit.

Tulsa County District Judge Tracy Priddy sentenced Christopher Barnett, 37, and imposed $3,000 in fines. The judge also ordered one year of probation after release and denied Barnett’s request for a new trial.

A jury found Barnett guilty of one count of assault and battery with a deadly weapon on March 30. His sentencing hearing has been delayed several times since April due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Barnett appeared at Friday’s hearing remotely from the county jail. Jurors recommended Barnett be sentenced to 32 years in state prison.

The unidentified process server told the judge he still has a hard time sleeping due to pain from being shot through the elbow last July. He said he can no longer play with his son or help his mother with work around the house.

“My son came up to me later, this 4-year-old sensed something was wrong with my arm,” the victim said. “He laid his hand near the injury, looked up at me and said ‘Sorry.’ I think it is important to point out that Barnett shows no remorse but my 4-year-old son can show sympathy and empathy.”

In a two-minute home security video released by defense attorneys, the process server is shown holding a piece of paper near Barnett’s front door for 90 seconds before he hurriedly walks 10 feet away onto the front lawn. The victim is shot immediately after he stops and turns around, with a plume of smoke emanating from off screen. The victim’s left arm appears to go limp and he quickly runs away towards the street.

Barnett’s public defender, Jason Lollman, said after sentencing that his client “is devastated” by the sentence.

“He’s devastated. I’m devastated,” Lollman tweeted. “But we’re going to keep fighting for him.”

The jury was not persuaded by Barnett’s claim of immunity through the state’s stand-your-ground self-defense law. He also claimed he could tell the process server was carrying a concealed handgun and that the victim pulled what looked like a gun to him. The victim does not appear to have pulled any weapon in the defense video.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said at sentencing that he did not believes Barnett’s statements of remorse were sincere.

“It was a matter of pure happenstance and good fortune that the victim’s arm happened to be where it was when he was shot,” Kunzweiler said. “Mr. Barnett is fortunate to have not been charged with murder.”

Barnett is currently awaiting trial on four counts of threatening an act of violence. In that case, he is accused of posting online threats to shoot two employees at the University of Tulsa regarding the suspension of his husband Trey at the schools’ theatre department.

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