During Tuesday’s closing arguments in Derrick Barnett’s trial to determine if he killed a couple and their dog in Williams, Barnett was quoted talking about the case to his mother on the Coconino County Detention Facility phones.
“I’m ready to accept my responsibility,” Barnett said. “I’m ready to die."
This was recorded while he and his mother discussed various news outlets and Facebook posts buzzing about her son’s allegations. Barnett is charged with nine counts including two counts of first degree murder, first degree burglary, theft and cruelty to animals, all of which he pleads not guilty.
The alleged crimes took place at the home of Michael Dimuria, 67, and his wife Nora Dimuria, 64, and resulted in their deaths.
State prosecutor Ammon Barker framed Barnett’s recorded phone call as an admission of guilt, while public defender Roberta McVickers’ portrayed it as the result of a conviction from a very different kind of court.
“He’d already been convicted in the court of public opinion,” McVickers said.
The testimony recorded in the detention facility included several admissions that could help the state’s case. While talking on the phone, Barnett's mother told him they found the car. He then asked, “How did they know what I was driving?”
He also referred to his father’s actions, kicking him out of his camper trailer a day before the murder.
“I didn’t have any other way,” Barnett said. “When people are alone, this is what they do. This is how they feel, how they act.”
The day’s closing arguments summed up two weeks of evidence and testimony. The state drew out a breadcrumb-style trail for the jury showing Barnett’s movements before and after the crime. Barker alleged that Barnett was motivated to do the crime because he needed money.
They allege he stole around $2,000 in cash and purchased a new car after leaving the Dimurias near a river in Colorado. They retrieved footage of Barnett in Walmart paying for items like shirts, pants and socks.
Barker alleged that Barnett’s actions, like during the police pursuit, showed he was conscious of his guilt.
“He had to be rolled off the road with a punctured tire,” Barker said.
After he rolled off the road, the responding officers found two separate guns in his car. The two weapons were alleged to have been used at the crime scene.
As a part of the defense, McVickers tried to inspire doubt in the jurors’ minds. She alleged the evidence simply wasn’t there to prove that Barnett was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. She began by focusing on the fact that Barnett’s DNA was not located at the scene.
Despite that fact, his DNA can be found on many other items that were allegedly stolen by Barnett. McVickers speculated that there were many reasons his DNA could be in the Jeep Liberty, like maybe he hitched a ride with someone or maybe he found it abandoned.
She also speculated that the Dimurias could have been killed by a disgruntled patient, or another person committing crime in the area.
As for the money, McVickers alleged that he could have had the money he was using loaned to him. She cited that he paid for the supplies at Walmart with $20 bills, similar to the type of money retrieved in ATM transactions.
“If he had gone to an ATM, what would that do to [Barnett’s] motive? Dilutes it, right?” McVickers said.
And as for the recorded discussion between Barnett and his mother, McVickers alleged Barnett’s words showed “the gravity of the situation” slowly sinking in. She reminded the jury that none of the testimony amounted to a confession of guilt.
While questions do not carry the same weight as evidence, the jury has been isolated for their deliberations. The verdict should be delivered in the next few days.