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.
Twenty five years ago, Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” music video featured images of missing children and helped close 21 cases.
If one video could recover that many children, how many can we find with the power of new technology and social media?
Runaway Train 25 – MTV Video Music Award “Video for Good” nominated! Watch, share, help bring kids home.
For the 25th anniversary of the song, we reimagined “Runaway Train” with new artists and a dynamic music video that updates itself with missing children from the NCMEC database based on a user’s location. That means more missing children in front of more people in more relevant places.
Watch #RunawayTrain25 and help us bring home #Missingkids.
As the nation’s clearinghouse and comprehensive reporting center for all issues related to the prevention of and recovery from child victimization, NCMEC leads the fight against abduction, abuse, and exploitation – because every child deserves a safe childhood.
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.