CANTON The man who fatally shot Canton police dog Jethro has been sentenced to 45 years in prison.
D. Barefield, 23, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to charges related to
Jethro's death and several other counts stemming from four earlier
burglaries and an unrelated aggravated robbery.
Stark County Common Pleas Judge Kristin G. Farmer called
Barefield's actions "intolerable" and said they violated "the safety and
security of this county and the people sworn to protect it" as she
sentenced him to a combined 45-year prison term that covers both pending
In January, Barefield broke into the Fishers Foods on
Harrison Avenue SW, shot Jethro three times and exchanged gunfire with
two officers, during which he was shot in the ankle. The police dog died
the following day.
It initially appeared the plea deal might not
go through, as Barefield on Wednesday told Farmer he was dissatisfied
with his legal representation while confirming that he'd signed the plea
He said he felt his attorneys were there for a
paycheck and that he had asked for multiple things that hadn't been
provided to him.
The courtroom was cleared, and after Barefield
spoke privately with his attorneys — who are public defenders — the
The case had been headed for a trial, though
defense attorneys had said finding an impartial jury would pose a
challenge because of extensive media coverage of Jethro's shooting and
requested the trial be moved out of county.
The crime sparked
national outrage, and police from as far away as New York and Maryland
came to Canton to attend Jethro's funeral. The dog's death also led
state lawmakers to introduce a bill that would make the penalty for
killing a police K9 harsher.
Farmer, as she sentenced Barefield
on Wednesday, noted the six years he will serve for shooting Jethro and
the firearm charge is the maximum allowed by the state. She also said
while some people might see a 45-year prison sentence as "too harsh," it
reflects not only the seriousness of Jethro's death and the fact that
he shot at two officers but also the "terror" inflicted on victims of
the burglaries and aggravated robbery.
None of the victims from
either case spoke in court Wednesday. Assistant Stark County Prosecutor
Fred Scott said all fully supported the prison sentence.
of the agreement, Barefield on Wednesday also pleaded guilty to four
charges of burglary and to one charge of aggravated robbery with a
firearm specification, unrelated to the incident at Fishers Foods.
last year burglarized homes in Plain and Canton townships while
occupants were sleeping, stealing credit cards, cash, medications and
phones, according to court records. And in January — a few days before
shooting at Jethro and two police officers — he robbed an employee of
BJ's Wholesale Club at gunpoint as she sat in her car waiting to go into
He was sentenced to 11 years total for those crimes and 34 years for the Fishers Foods break-in.
County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero, who took the unusual step of sitting
in with prosecutors during Wednesday's hearing, said his office was
satisfied with the 45-year sentence and that avoiding a trial means
keeping victims from what could be a traumatic experience.
"We feel we got a very dangerous criminal off the streets," he said.