A One-Name Study
for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname
Notes for Barak Lee BARNUM
From the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News of Thursday, March 5, 1998: Barnum gets a 40-year sentence. A worn-out Potter County jury sentenced an Amarillo man to a 40-year prison term and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine Wednesday in his wife's 1994 strangulation slaying. A seven-woman, five-man panel debated Barak Lee Barnum's punishment for about two hours before sentencing him to prison. Earlier, jurors took nearly three hours before finding him guilty in 33-year-old Cathy Jean Barnum's death. The defendant appeared ashen as the sentence was read and later held his head in his hands as jurors debated his prison term. Defense attorney Joe Marr Wilson told 47th District Judge David Gleason he will ponder an appeal, which must be made in 30 days. Barnum was indicted in 1995 on a murder charge linked to the slaying of his wife, whose body was found in a field near Amarillo International Airport on April 5, 1995, four months after she was last seen. Cathy Barnum's family told police she disappeared from her home on Trinchera Drive in December 1994. In January 1995, investigators found her car parked at a South Jackson Street apartment complex with her purse, car keys and driver's license inside. Wednesday's verdict quietly swept through the courtroom, drawing tears of relief for the victim's family members and sobs from Barnum's wife. After the punishment was decided, a member of the victim's family touched Barnum's wife lightly on the shoulder and offered her condolences. The victim's mother, Jackie Bolden, said she thought jurors handed down a just verdict and expressed her concerns about her three grandsons, whose father now faces a lengthy prison term. ``I think that the jury did a good job, but there's lots of hurt in this. There's no satisfaction,'' Bolden said as tears quietly streamed down her face. ``The boys are still going to have to go through a living hell for the rest of their lives, and he's the one who did it to them.'' During the trial, prosecutors said Bolden vigorously pursued leads and left no stone unturned in her personal investigation into her daughter's mysterious disappearance. As jurors pondered her former son-in-law's punishment, Bolden said she had to pursue the truth about her daughter's killer. "I couldn't have slept at night if I hadn't have done everything I could for Cathy,'' she said. Defense testimony focused heavily on the circumstantial nature of the state's case and on another man, Anthony Blane Jones, who had a brief relationship with the victim and later became a suspect in her death. ``He's the easiest one to blame,'' Wilson said of his client. ``That's why he's here.'' Prosecutors Pat Murphy and 47th District Attorney Rebecca King pointed out inconsistencies in Barnum's accounts of his former wife's disappearance. ``He's the only one who killed this blonde, blue-eyed slip of a girl,'' King told jurors. But perhaps the most poignant testimony came from the victim herself. In a secret will written months before she disappeared, Cathy Barnum was worried that her husband would kill her for a life insurance policy and asked that her sons receive most of her worldly goods. ``I hope I'm terribly mistaken,'' Cathy Barnum wrote of her fears that she would die at her husband's hands. If the case holds up on appeal, Barak Barnum must serve at least 20 years before parole eligibility, officials said.
From the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News of Friday, September 7, 2001: Barnum gets 35-year term in wife's death. A jury sentenced Barak Lee Barnum to a 35-year prison term Thursday for the 1994 slaying of his estranged wife. Jurors sentenced Barnum after they found him guilty Wednesday of strangling his wife, Cathy Jean Barnum. Barnum will have to serve about 17 years before he is eligible for parole, but he already has served some prison time after he was convicted during an earlier trial. In 1998, Barnum, then 35, was sentenced to a 40-year prison term after jurors found him guilty of murder in 33-year-old Cathy Jean Barnum's death. But an appellate court ordered a second trial. After the first trial, Jackie Bolden, the victim's mother, said she vigorously pursued justice in the case of her daughter, who was missing for several months before her body was found. "I couldn't have slept at night if I hadn't done everything I could for Cathy," Jackie Bolden said. An appellate court decided that Barnum would get a second trial after the court ruled that the prosecution should not have been allowed to present a secret will the victim wrote before her death. In a letter, Cathy Barnum worried that her husband would kill her for the proceeds of a life insurance policy and asked that her three sons receive most of her worldly goods. "I hope I'm terribly mistaken," Cathy Barnum wrote in the letter. On Thursday, Barnum's attorney, Kent Birdsong, said his client has not decided whether to appeal the case. "There's animosity from the Bolden (victim's family's) side vs. Barak for obvious reasons, but these boys are still going to have to live with it one way or the other, and it's time to make peace. Barak's going to have to serve some time," Birdsong said. Barnum was indicted in 1995 on a murder charge linked to the slaying of his wife, whose decomposed corpse was found on April 5, 1995. Prosecutors claimed Barnum strangled his wife on Dec. 6, 1994, and dumped her body near Amarillo International Airport.
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