WELLSBURG - A Weirton man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for shooting and killing another Weirton man who intervened during a domestic dispute in their neighborhood on Sept. 8.
Adam Michael Barnhart, 19, of Weirton was sentenced to 40 years for second-degree murder and five years each for two counts of wanton endangerment with a firearm after entering a plea agreement Tuesday in 1st Judicial Circuit Court.
Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki III said a condition of the agreement is that Barnhart will waive his right to parole.
ENTERED — Adam Barnhart, 19, of Weirton, listens, with attorney Don Tennant at his side, as Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson advises him of his rights during a hearing Tuesday in which Barnhart pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and two counts of wanton endangerment. -- Warren Scott
Barki said under state law, Barnhart may not waive his right to early release for good conduct, but the condition still ensures he will serve at least 25 years of his 50-year sentence.
The prosecutor told Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson the plea agreement, which was arranged with Barnhart's attorney, Don Tennant, was supported by the family of Frank Tulock, whom Barnhart shot and killed.
Barnhart apologized to family members of Tulock seated in the courtroom and to his own family, particularly his mother, for the pain he has caused them.
Barnhart said he was "extremely sorry" about Tulock's death, adding, "I'm not a psychopath or a maniac."
"I was drunk (at the time of the shooting) and that certainly aided in my actions," he said.
Barki said Barnhart was standing on Orchard Street in a heated argument with his girlfriend when Tulock, a neighbor down the street, heard shouting and came to investigate.
Barki said Tulock, who was 36, didn't touch Barnhart but Barnhart fired eight shots with his .44 caliber handgun. Two of the bullets struck Tulock in the torso, another in the thigh and another in the neck, he said.
Weirton Police, who investigated the crime, said Tulock was pronounced dead at the scene.
Barki said the charges of wanton endangerment were filed because Barnhart's girlfriend and her mother were present when he was shooting and in harm's way.
Police said they found Barnhart that night hiding in bushes behind an abandoned building and the handgun discarded elsewhere.
Asked to comment, Barki said, "The state and the victim's family are satisfied with the sentence. Although they will never be made whole in this, this gives them some opportunity for closure."