A divided family reunited in court Tuesday for a murderer’s sentencing, but it remained torn apart.
The relatives gathered to watch a 19-year-old man — a son, cousin and grandson — being sentenced in the stabbing death of his grandmother on the morning after her 70th birthday party.
After family members cried and vented during an hour of tearful testimony at the Jackson County Courthouse, a judge sentenced Corey Barrett to life in prison for Marise Barrett’s murder.
“She raised you and you could turn on her?” Christy Wilson, a grandniece to the victim and cousin to Corey Barrett, asked as she addressed the defendant from the witness stand. “She didn’t deserve that.
“If you had wanted anything, she would have given it to you. She broke her back for you, and you killed the one person who would ever love you.
“We will never forgive you for that.”
Her family, Wilson added, has been torn apart.
Marise Barrett suffered 32 stab wounds in the March 2013 attack at her Kansas City home just two months after she had ordered Corey Barrett to move out. She had raised him since age 4.
In May, Jackson County Circuit Judge Joel P. Fahnestock found him guilty of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and two counts of armed criminal action.
Barrett, 19, initially was charged as a juvenile because he was 16 at the time, but later he was certified to stand trial as an adult.
A co-defendant, Kevin J. Brewer, 20, is awaiting trial in the case.
According to court documents, Corey Barrett and Brewer went to Marise Barrett’s house in the 4400 block of East 33rd Street early on March 17, 2013. Her husband, who slept in a different room, woke and found her dead.
Detectives tracking a missing cellphone arrested Brewer, who had the phone with him, after he walked out of his school. When questioned by police, each defendant implicated the other as the killer.
Vernon C. Barrrett Jr., who lost his wife that day, still isn’t convinced that his grandson instigated the killing.
“She loved Corey and Corey loved her,” he testified. “I don’t think he would have done it had he been alone.”
Corey Barrett’s mother, Tameka Barrett, described her own conflicted emotions.
“Corey, it took me three days to have you, I love you and I’ll always love you,” she said, addressing her son from the witness stand before turning to face Fahnestock.
“I want justice, but that’s my child,” she said.
Wilson also grew tearful addressing Fahnestock.
“He chose a cowardly act, to kill his 70-year-old grandmother … for her phone?” Wilson said.
Ted Hunt, assistant Jackson County prosecutor, said Barrett deserved a “sentence that is appropriate to the heinous nature of the offense.”
Marise Barrett, Hunt added, had suffered from a heart condition and diabetes. The wounds on her hands described in court by a medical examiner suggested she had struggled to ward off the knife thrusts, he said.
“She did fight, and she did see her attacker,” Hunt said.
He described Corey Barrett as having not shown “one iota” of remorse throughout the trial and called him a “general threat to society.”
Barrett chose to kill his grandmother “inside the very home in which he was raised,” Hunt said. “This is criminal activity that I have rarely seen in 23 years of doing this.”
David Rowan, who represented Barrett, said it remained unclear just how large Barrett’s role had been in his grandmother’s death. He challenged the prosecutor’s claim that Barrett did not feel regret.
Corey Barrett sat silent throughout the hearing. When Fahnestock asked him whether he had a statement to make, he shook his head.
Fahnestock sentenced Barrett to a life sentence on the second-degree murder charge and another life term on one count of armed criminal action. She also sentenced Barrett to 25 years for first-degree robbery, 15 years for first-degree burglary and 25 years on a second count of armed criminal action.
Afterward, Wilson said she believed the sentence appropriate.
“I believe, like Mr. Hunt said, he’s a threat to society,” she said. “If you can do that to your grandmother, you can do that to anybody.”