Both sides rest in molestation, cruelty to children case
by Shaka S. Lias
Apr 08, 2011 | 3290 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Both sides rested in the trial of Carl Tommy Barnett Jr. and Melanie Barnett after a full day of testimony Thursday.

The trial started Wednesday morning with opening statements and testimonies from an 8-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister. To ensure the children's comfort, the courtroom was cleared when they testified, however a June 2008 video interview was played from the Harbor House, a children advocacy center.

In the interview, the boy told Nikki Blalock, a forensic interviewer, that Carl "Tom" Barnett pushed his fingers down the boy's throat as he slept in the living room.

"He put his hand down my throat all the way to my tonsils and I threw up," the boy recalled. He told Blalock that Barnett did it because he thought the boy was faking sleep.

Barnett is charged with two counts of cruelty to children and two counts of second-degree cruelty to children. He is also charged with aggravated child molestation. That charge stems from allegations Barnett had sexual contact with the 6-year-old girl.

His wife, Melanie, is charged with two counts of cruelty to children. The indictment alleges Barnett acted with criminal negligence by knowing the children were being abused and failing to act on their behalf. According to the indictment, the incidents happened between Jan. 1 and June 20, 2008.

A male relative of the children testified Thursday that upon learning of the alleged abuse he refused to return the children to the Barnetts' home.

He told jurors he was shocked at the allegations and called Melanie Barnett to discuss it with her but she refused.

At that time, the police and Bartow County Department of Family and Children Services were called.

A Cartersville police officer who initially spoke with the witness said he received a call at the station from the witness. "He said something strange was going on and he was not taking the kids back to (Melanie Barnett)," the officer said.

Assistant District Attorney Jana Allen called numerous witnesses on the state's behalf, including Dr. Julie Medlin, a psychologist who testified that the girl suffers from sleep problems and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Medlin told jurors the girl was given a standardized test: "Her test results are highly consistent with a history of sexual abuse."

Attorneys for the defense maintain their clients' innocence. Lance McCoy represents Carl Barnett and called psychotherapist Dr. Nancy Alderidge who testified that the girl has made several accusations, including one that she was touched by 12 to 22 boys in her private area.

"She was more sure than she was about Mr. Barnett," Alderidge told jurors.

However, Alderidge agreed with Allen, saying the girl referred to the defendant as "mean Tom" and the girl accused Barnett of having sexual contact with her.

Several character witnesses were called on behalf of the Barnetts.

Greg Smith, a Bartow County deputy, testified that he and Carl Barnett attended school together and have rekindled their friendship in the years since Smith's divorce. Smith also said he has been around Barnett and the children and doesn't think Barnett is guilty of the charges.

Melanie Barnett's attorney James Haley called a former case worker for Oasis Counseling Center. Andrelle Turner testified that she observed about 60 visits between Barnett and the children. She described them as "positive and always affectionate."

Turner said she had no safety concerns and Barnett was always prepared for the visit.

Closing arguments are expected today.