The Lufkin man who has confessed to the July stabbing deaths of his girlfriend and her brother will know within six weeks whether the state intends to seek the death penalty against him.
Terrance Barnes, 31, is charged with capital murder in the deaths of his then-girlfriend Rosa Pina, 27, and her brother Pepe, 28. Barnes, clad in an orange Angelina County jumpsuit, took a front-row seat in the courtroom audience during the Wednesday afternoon hearing between defense attorneys Jay Wooten and Mary Conn, prosecutor Art Bauereiss and state District Judge Paul White.
After conferring with the state and the defense, White set a Nov. 15 deadline as to whether the state will seek the death penalty if a jury finds Barnes guilty of the murders. As the services of Wooten and Conn are being provided through the county’s Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases contract, there is a possibility they could be taken off the case if the death penalty is not sought, according to information heard in court.
“We’d like to stay on because we bond with our client. It is not up to me or Ms. Conn,” Wooten said.
With that issue addressed, White moved forward to discuss a potential trial date, noting that capital cases typically go to trial within six to nine months of the original court setting.
“Is six to nine months within the realm of reasonableness?” White asked both sides.
“I don’t think mitigation can be done thoroughly in that time period,” Wooten said, adding that they have a full-time mitigation expert and full-time investigator devoted to the case. “When these type of cases get reversed in the last seven to 10 years, it’s because there was not enough time for mitigation. Win, lose or draw, we want to make sure this case is done properly.”
Bauereiss said the only time issue he has is with getting evidence back from the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, as it is behind schedule due to factors out of its control.
Taking each answer into consideration, White set a tentative trial date of August 2013 with pre-trial hearings every 90 days. The next pre-trial hearing is set for Nov. 19.
Barnes has remained in jail on a $2 million bond since his July 26 arrest that followed a 20-hour manhunt. In an interview with an Angelina County Sheriff’s Office investigator, Barnes confessed to fatally stabbing the Pinas at the home they shared on John Kolb Road east of Lufkin, according to previous reports.
Barnes and Rosa Pina had a tumultuous relationship for several years and had been fighting just before the murders occurred, according to previous reports. Her sister and four children reportedly witnessed the act.
Jessica Cooley’s email address is email@example.com.