Daily file photo by John Godbey|
Farron Barksdale in Athens in 2005 for a hearing. He was pronounced dead Monday at a Montgomery hospital.
Athens cop killer taken off life support at hospital; lost consciousness shortly after transfer to prison
By Holly Hollman
and M.J. Ellington
When Limestone County District Attorney Kristi Valls said convicted cop killer Farron Barksdale would “die in an Alabama prison,” she didn’t know how soon his death would come.
Barksdale died Monday at a Montgomery hospital, more than a week after Kilby Correctional Facility guards found him unresponsive and alone on his prison bunk, and less than two weeks since his transfer from Limestone County Jail. He was serving a sentence of life without parole for killing two Athens policemen.
State Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said Barksdale died at about 5:45 p.m. at Baptist Medical Center South, only hours after his family agreed to disconnect him from life support machines.
“It was a family decision,” he said.
Valls said July 26 that she had accepted Barksdale’s plea in return for his serving life without the possibility of parole.
Barksdale, 32, pleaded guilty to five counts of capital murder and two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle for the Jan. 2, 2004, deaths of officer Tony Mims and Sgt. Larry Russell. He lured officers to his mother’s Horton Street home by calling 911 and asking for an FBI agent. He shot each officer as he arrived at the home, firing from a window inside with a 7.62-mm assault rifle.
A jury validated his guilty plea on Aug. 6.
Athens Police Chief Wayne Harper said the three-year ordeal has been a “tragedy that has affected a lot of people.”
“We’re sorry for the pain his family is going through and the pain the Russell and Mims families continue to go through,” Harper said.
The Limestone County Sheriff’s Department transported Barksdale to Kilby on Aug. 8. Sheriff Mike Blakely said a nurse called his medical staff later that day asking for Barksdale’s medications because he was hearing voices and might have to be hospitalized. Blakely said a nurse called again Aug. 11 and said it appeared he had been “severely beaten.”
Initial reports of Barksdale’s hospitalization indicated he had symptoms of heat-related problems complicated by an upper respiratory condition, but he also had unexplained marks on his pelvis, which Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen said doctors thought were four or five days old.
Limestone officials later said Barksdale had no bruises or marks when he left Athens to begin his sentence and prison records indicated he did not arrive with marks or bruises.
An internal prison system investigation began the day Barksdale entered the hospital, and Corbett said Monday the investigation was ongoing. It could be weeks before investigators issue findings, he said.
Although there was no official word about an autopsy, Corbett said that, given the circumstances, he expects there will be one.
Barksdale had paranoid schizophrenia, but psychiatrists found him competent to stand trial in the deaths of the two officers. He never denied shooting them.
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