The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, through Chief Assistant Gina DeGenova, filed objections with the Ohio Parole Board regarding the upcoming parole hearings of co-defendants Chad Barnette and James Goins scheduled in March 2022.
Barnette and Goins were each sentenced to 84 years for the kidnapping, robberies, and assaults of several individuals on January 29, 2001. After retrieving his newspaper, an 83-year-old man was viciously attacked by Barnette and Goins. During this attack, Barnette and Goins kicked, hit, and dragged their victim through his own home, ultimately throwing him down his basement steps and locking him in a fruit cellar. The victim sustained a punctured lung, broken ribs, and other broken bones from this attack. Later that same night, Barnette and Goins, one of whom was carrying a firearm, kicked their way into a home occupied by a husband and wife demanding money. These men then dragged the female victim around her house looking for cash, after which time, they struck the male victim, who was confined to a wheelchair, over the head with plates and other objects causing severe head contusions and profuse bleeding. The female victim was hit in the head and legs with a shotgun. The assailants also hit her with a telephone and threatened to kill her. Her head trauma later had to be remedied with staples.
In January 2021, the Ohio General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 256 that granted parole eligibility to juvenile offenders like Barnette and Goins, regardless of their original sentence. Because Barnette and Goins were 16 years old when they committed these horrific offenses, both are now eligible for parole. Despite this fact, the U.S. Supreme Court specifically recognized in Graham v. Florida that “[a] State is not required to guarantee eventual freedom to a juvenile offender convicted of a nonhomicide crime. What the State must do, however, is give defendants like Graham some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” (Emphasis added.) Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 75, 130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825 (2010).
Ohio law only requires that juvenile offenders like Barnette and Goins receive an opportunity for parole, but does not guarantee their eventual release into society. While Barnette and Goins will be afforded the required opportunity for parole, the violent nature of their offenses and their negative behavior while incarcerated in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction establish that neither one is suitable for parole. For all those reasons, the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, through Chief Assistant Gina DeGenova, objected to the release of Defendants Chad Barnette and James Goins because the brutality and callousness of their crimes demonstrate that paroling either Barnette or Goins would be inconsistent with protecting our community’s welfare and security.