Tuesday, February 08, 2000

Trial to look at two autopsies, two conclusions

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Two conflicting autopsies will be prominent in the murder trial of Dustin Hendrix, which began Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

        The first autopsy led to a conclusion that Patricia Ann Barrett, a 27-year-old mother of five, died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and cocaine. Her body was found Aug. 15 in a shed in rural Oxford Township.

        The second autopsy, conducted three months after the first, found that Ms. Barrett died from manual strangulation. Further investigation by authorities had prompted the second autopsy.

        The prosecution will emphasize the results of the second autopsy, while Mr. Hendrix's attorney, David Kash, will underscore the importance of the first.

        “There's substantial doubt, not just reasonable doubt, as to Ms. Barrett's cause of death,” Mr. Kash told the jury in his opening statement.

        Mr. Hendrix, 30, of Hamilton, is charged with murder, felonious assault, abduction and gross abuse of a corpse.

        The murder charge was filed against him after the second autopsy.

        Assistant Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer told the jury that Mr. Hendrix repeatedly lied to police about the circumstances surrounding Ms. Barrett's death.

        In his first interview with police, he said he had no contact with Ms. Barrett after they left an Aug. 12 party at a trailer in Hamilton at the same time, Mr. Gattermeyer said.

        He admitted to a more extensive role in her death only after being confronted with evidence by police in two later interviews, he said.

        Mr. Gattermeyer said this is the account Mr. Hendrix gave police:

        He met a group of people that included Ms. Barrett at a Hamilton tavern the evening of Aug. 12. They invited him to a party at the trailer.

        He and Ms. Barrett left at about the same time. He returned to the tavern, where he saw her. He invited her into his car.

        After he made a sexual advance, she became angry and lunged toward him. He hit her in the face, but she continued to be out of control.

        He wrapped a telephone cord around her face to restrain her, and hit her in the face again. She coughed and vomited and then passed out and died.

        Panicked, he drove around until he saw the vacant house on Todd Road in Oxford Township. He placed her body in the shed and left.

        On Aug. 15, Timothy Crumly, of Oxford, discovered the body. He testified that he had been driving around that afternoon looking at houses for sale.

        He said when he looked through the shed's broken window, he saw Ms. Barrett's legs.

        Mr. Gattermeyer said Ms. Barrett was a substance abuser who led a wild life.

        “Her lifestyle included drinking, using illegal drugs, partying, staying out late and being with people she didn't know well,” he said. “She led a lifestyle that made her vulnerable.”


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- Trial to look at two autopsies, two conclusions