Convicted murderer Charles Barnes was in Sharp County Circuit Court Monday as he went through the last steps of the appeals process.
Barnes was convicted in 1999 for the brutal murders of Eula Whitlock, 90, and her daughter, Dorothy Whitlock, 70, of Evening Shade Aug. 10, 1997. A Sharp County jury gave Barnes the death penalty after his conviction.
Barnes requested a Rule 37, which essentially says he had ineffective council, a ruling that would result in a new trial. Before the ruling can be heard a new attorney was appointed for Barnes. Circuit Judge Harold Erwin appointed Joe Perry of Marianna to represent Barnes. Perry will be given time to prepare the case and Barnes will return to Ash Flat for the hearing. Ash Flat attorney Larry Kissee previously represented Barnes.
Barnes was convicted after his girlfriend, Melanie Roberts of Cave City, confessed to the murders. Roberts originally pleaded "not guilty" to charges of capital murder, but agreed to a plea bargain stipulating the State of Arkansas would charge her with two counts of first degree murder, felony Y, each carrying a 40-year sentence in exchange for her cooperation and testimony in further trials.
Roberts testified at Barnes' trial that she and Barnes "cased the old ladies' house to see what they could steal" and later returned to rob them. She said they returned to the mobile home and found the doors locked, so they entered through the Whitlock's back bedroom window.
Roberts said Barnes hit the women with a hammer and a hatchet, brutally murdering them. She said after the murders they went to a wooded area and attempted to wash blood out of their clothing but were unsuccessful so they attempted to burn them. When that too failed they buried the blood-soaked clothing. Roberts took investigators to the area and pointed to the direction where Barnes allegedly buried the clothing; however, no clothing was recovered at the scene.
Barnes is incarcerated at Tucker Prison in Pine Bluff.