Paxton’s Human Trafficking Division Announces 99-Year Sentence in Hunt County Human Trafficking Trial
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that Barbara Barrett, of Greenville, has been found guilty of Continuous Trafficking of a Child in Hunt County and received a sentence of 99 years in jail.
Barrett and her husband, Jeffery Barrett, are accused of abusing and neglecting their adopted children while forcing them to work in a puppy mill attached to their home.
Both were charged with Continuous Trafficking of Persons. Paxton’s Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime Division assisted the Hunt County District Attorney in prosecution of Barrett.
“It is heartbreaking to know this horrid abuse was happening in our state, and it is unfathomable that a person could be so heartless to abuse the foster care system and use children in need of a loving, safe home as slave labor,” Attorney General Paxton said. “There is no excuse for this evil behavior, and it will not be tolerated in our state. We can only hope this successful prosecution will bring some degree of justice to the children that were robbed of the love and care they deserved. I will never stop fighting against human trafficking.”
Parents sent to prison in 2015 Fayetteville slaying, sex assault of 3-year-old daughter
Cumberland County, NC – A Fayetteville mother and father were sent to prison Monday for the 2015 sexual abuse and death of their malnourished 3-year-old daughter.
After a week of testimony and just over four hours of deliberation, a Cumberland County jury found Jamarkus Smith, 31, guilty of first-degree murder, taking indecent liberties with a child, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, felonious child abuse and two counts of sex offense with a child by an adult in the death of his daughter, Jourdin A’Legacy Smith.
Jourdin’s mother and Smith’s wife, Octavia Bennett-Smith, 32, a former Fort Bragg Army sergeant, pleaded guilty in December 2019.
Testimony in Smith’s trial began July 19, with closing arguments on Friday.
Following the jury verdict, Smith professed his innocence when he addressed the court before sentencing.
“I showed them I was innocent,” he said. “They know I’m innocent, and you know I’m innocent. Everybody here knows. How is that right? At what point is the legal system about justice?”
No statements were made on behalf of Jourdin before Judge Claire Hill sentenced Smith to life imprisonment for the murder and a combined 25 to 35 years for the other charges. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.
Smith’s attorney, Kris Poppe, said his client plans to appeal the verdict.
As Smith was escorted from the courtroom Monday, he turned to two women in the gallery who appeared to be there on his behalf and said, “I didn’t do it.”
“I know you didn’t baby,” one of the women said. “He didn’t do that. I don’t care what nobody says. He didn’t do it.”
According to the child’s autopsy report, the cause of death was pneumonia in the setting of malnutrition, neglect and sexual abuse. She weighed just 28 pounds at the time of her death, and her body and genitals were riddled with lacerations and contusions, the report said.
Bennett-Smith’s sentencing came some 30 minutes after her husband’s.
Her defense attorney, Antonio Gerald, called Jourdin’s death a tragedy.
Gerald said that Bennett-Smith accepted responsibility for her role in Jourdin’s death and “agreed to testify and assist in any way to help bring justice for Jourdin.”
Bennett-Smith did not speak during the hearing but cried as she was sentenced to a minimum term 10 years, five months, and a maximum of 13 years, six months for the second-degree murder charge.
The judge declined Gerald’s request for a consolidated sentence and instead stacked the sentence for the other charges.
For the child abuse and sexual assault charges, she received a consecutive minimum sentence of four years, four months, and a maximum of more than 10 years in prison. She will be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years after release.
The judge also recommended a psychological evaluation for Bennett-Smith.
Gerald said that the court heard during her testimony at Smith’s trial that she was also a victim of assault as a child.
“These are not excuses for her actions of what she has pled guilty to, but only to shed some light as to what may have led her to be in this courtroom today,” he said.
East Tennessee couple charged with aggravated Child Abuse, assault of six children
HARRIMAN, TN – A couple in Harriman, Tennessee face a slew of aggravated abuse charges of six children, according to a grand jury indictment.
Randall Ridenour, 54, and Michelle Ridenour, 48, of Harriman have been charged with 17 counts of aggravated child abuse, seven counts of aggravated child neglect and five counts of aggravated assault.
The two plead not guilty in an arraignment hearing on Monday, October 26.
The alleged abuses involve six children, ages 6-14, and occurred between Jan. 1, 2018, and June 13 of this year.
According to the list of charges in the indictment, the victims sustained severe bruising from being whipped by a belt.
The charges also allege the couple knowingly treated and neglected the victims, “in such a manner as to inflict injury, and the abuse was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel or involved the infliction of torture to the victim.”
The five counts of aggravated assault listed involve both strangulation or attempted strangulation and the use or display of a deadly weapon, according to court documents.
They are set to appear in court on Friday, Dec. 18.
LUBBOCK, TX – Amid new concerns about child abuse, the Go Blue Lubbock campaign, held every April as a part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, stresses the importance of protecting children and preventing child abuse on the South Plains.
With added pressures brought on by health concerns, job insecurity, financial strain, and other effects of the coronavirus crisis, children are at greater risk as parents and caregivers struggle to cope.
In 2019, there were 3,095 confirmed cases of child abuse in the Lubbock Region.
Fifteen children lost their lives in abuse or neglect related fatalities in this area.
The Lubbock area continues to have one of the highest rates of confirmed abuse or neglect in the state with an average of three confirmed cases in Lubbock County every day.
The public is invited to participate in the campaign by wearing blue on Go Blue Fridays throughout the month of April and sharing and tagging with the hashtag #GoBlueLubbock.
I am going to attempt to reach out to all Parents with this, although we want to draw young couples and young parents-to-be to Our Sites, where they can better prepare to be the Parents their Child needs.
No matter what kind of Parent you are, there is one thing you will never teach your Child.
The first, and most important thing a Child should “FEEL” is LOVE. I believe that when a Child is born, it is possible to be ahead. But let’s start from the beginning, and just so everyone knows, it is possible to, up to a point, to look at your wife and Child and say “I am so very sorry , PLEASE, I love you both, but I have wronged you both”. ( If this is the wife, just change the words to read accordingly).
You should love your significant other as much as you love yourself, and you should be an honest person already, if not how can you even think of doing your significant other and family-to-be like this????
The same goes for violence toward your significant other and a family????
IT IS WRONG TO IMPLANT INDIFFERENCE IN A CHILD’S HEART
While we are here, you and this young Lady(even if you are joining in on this as seasoned Parents) are forming a TEAM, and contrary to what anyone says, there is no master or slave.
Learn to open up and talk, but be totally honest. If you are not best friends, it is time you really get to know each other, and at this point you never, never, never, ever betray the trust in which you told each other your deepest… and dreams.
But now is the time to train yourselves to talk softly, and you both might as well get rid of the dirty habits: chewing tobacco… OK, what is it? No, No, not you just the Mother-to-be, since it is her job to deal with your young football player 24 hours a day for 11 years…. OF Course I MEAN YOU TOO, new Mothers have depression, and it is the Father’s responsibility to deal with their Child as much as possible, and that doesn’t mean just when you aren’t playing pool or horseshoes.
The other member of your Team will need a time just to herself, EVERY DAY, and this is not just her naptime, that does not count.
Now back to stopping things an innocent Child should not know: tobacco, cussing, arguing, fighting, alcohol, drugs(all 3 kinds, illicit, over-the-counter, and prescription, and that goes for the fake over-the-counter synthetic drugs), pornography, loud music, and junk television.
Next the Team will need to start early and get you a child-proofing-the-house list going, along with Emergency plans for various possibilities.
OK, when your Teammate conceives, it will be time to start talking softly to this bundle of joy while lightly rubbing and touching this “bump” as your Child grows. You can sing softly, and read to this soon-to-be addition to the Team.
It will be a really good time to prepare yourselves, so read-up on facts like bonding to Mom and Dad, Newborns get scared very easily, and most particularly uncontrollable crying, which is Purple crying or Blue Face(it was called when my oldest taught me the hard way what this thing is, that far too many end up hurting their Child for life by Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Last but not least, the things you DO NOT DO AT ALL, EVEN ONE(1) TIME!!!!
You never discipline a Child when you are angry. You NEVER talk MEAN to them, NEVER criticize them, if they are having trouble with homework, you help them, and if you can’t do the problems just imagine what this dear Child feels like in front of his peers.
Now it is time for you and your Teammate to start practicing Quality Time.
You can NOT teach your Child LOVE, it is a feeling, a felt thing. But you will begin as a smiling, long-suffering Parent, teaching your Child the basic qualities necessary to be a Good Family Member, Good Friend, Good Pupil, Good Citizen, Good Employee, Good Soldier, Good Boss, and a Good Civil Servant, by teaching Truth, Honor, Respect while being Respected, Duty, and Responsibility(which, by 18-years-of-age, will be Responsibility For One’s Own Actions).
This Child must be protected by you and your teammate for 18 years.