By SAMANTHA PERRY
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A Northfork area man charged with a trio of felonies, including first-degree armed robbery, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors Monday in a deal negotiated with the McDowell County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
Darrell Barnes, 34, was originally charged with armed robbery first degree, assault during the commission of a felony, and grand larceny in connection with a Dec. 6, 2007, robbery at the former AmeriBank (now Pioneer Bank) branch office in Northfork. The charges against Barnes came in 2010 after a three-year investigation netted DNA evidence against him.
“This was a real good investigative case with DNA,” Sgt. C.F. Kane, commander of the Welch detachment of the West Virginia State Police, said. “I feel there was a good chance a McDowell County jury would have found him guilty of all charges — that the jury would have had probable cause that he did commit these crimes based on the DNA evidence and the investigation.”
Barnes pleaded guilty Monday to petit larceny, battery and brandishing a deadly weapon in McDowell County Circuit Court. “The plea was solely between the prosecutor’s office and Mr. (Steve) Mancini (the defendant’s attorney),” and not the state police, Kane said.
The robbery occurred when a female employee of the Family Dollar store in Northfork was making a night deposit at the bank, and a male subject approached her and forcibly took the bag containing the store deposits from her, Kane told the Daily Telegraph in a previous report. “We completed a track of the fleeing subject’s path and that led us to a discarded pair of gloves that we found in a remote area. I sent the gloves to the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab for processing. The lab took cuttings from the gloves and developed a DNA profile from them.”
The information was entered into databases used to compare DNA profiles of known suspects and Kane got a “hit.”
“We re-entered the profile and it came back a match,” he said. At the time, Barnes was already in custody on charges related to violating federal supervised release.
Kane said he felt the case against Barnes was solid. “We had video, DNA from the gloves that matched the defendant as a primary user, video that showed what the gloves looked like, and a canine track that led to the gloves from where the crime took place.”
DNA results of one glove showed the sample could only randomly occur in “1 in 749 quadrillion,” Kane said.
As part of the plea deal, Barnes must also pay $2,592.77 in restitution to the Family Dollar store, Kane said.
— Contact Samantha Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org