A Baton Rouge man with a previous manslaughter conviction pleaded guilty Tuesday to that same charge in the brutal 2011 baseball bat beating death of a Southern University student and was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison.
Timothy Wayne Washington, 53, was scheduled to stand trial this week on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of 26-year-old Sheena Marie Barnett.
Less than a month after a murder charge was dropped, a 52-year-old felon was indicted again …
Barnett's body was discovered Feb. 19, 2011, inside her burning GSRI Avenue apartment. Her head was severely beaten, and a partially burned bat with blood on it was found near the body.
Bob Tucker, who represents Washington, described his manslaughter plea Tuesday as a "best interest plea." A second-degree murder conviction would have carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Manslaughter is punishable by up to 40 years behind bars.
"We believed that under the facts and the situation that was presented by this case that this was the best outcome that the state could obtain," East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.
Washington's DNA was found on the baseball bat, but Tucker has said previously his client and Barnett were acquaintances so there would be nothing unusual about his DNA being discovered in the apartment.
Washington's abrupt manslaughter plea was the latest twist in a case that had its share of them. Prosecutors dropped a second-degree murder charge against him last October after state District Judge Beau Higginbotham refused to delay Washington's trial again to give prosecutors more time to locate several crucial witnesses. Less than a month later, Washington was indicted again in Barnett's killing.
Prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a 52-year-old felon in the 2011 baseball bat bea…
Two people identified Washington as being with Barnett at an unspecified location the evening before her body was found, according to an arrest warrant. The witnesses said Washington and Barnett left that location in Barnett's car, which was at her home when authorities found her body, the warrant stated.
Barnett was pursuing an economics degree at Southern and planned to open her own business. She also was an aspiring musician. Authorities said Washington was a transient.
Washington previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in prison in the 1999 slaying of Walter Servick, a rap artist, during a party on West Garfield Avenue. He also has a 1992 second-degree battery conviction for choking a woman at a West Roosevelt Street residence.