WILKES-BARRE — George Lee Barnes was supposed to go to trial this week on homicide charges. Instead, he’s going to prison.
Barnes, 24, formerly of Main Street in Edwardsville, averted a trial Monday when he entered a guilty plea before Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough in connection with the May 16, 2012, shooting death of 26-year-old Daron Rhashawn Trollinger, also of Edwardsville, during a drug deal gone bad.
His admission to one count of third-degree murder earned Barnes, who once was known by the street name “Bomb,” a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison.
Assistant Luzerne County District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino admitted he was surprised by the plea, coming as attorneys were preparing for a trial that was set to begin today. Just last week, Ferentino pointed out, forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross was deposed by video in the case.
But Ferentino did say he felt that the plea and the sentence were appropriate outcomes in the case.
Police say Trollinger was shot and killed during a marijuana sale inside the Eagle Ridge apartments in Edwardsville.
Monday’s plea brings to a close a long and complicated case.
Initial reports in the days after the shooting indicated that Barnes was found seriously injured with a gunshot wound after the shooting in a rear yard of 573 Main St., near the athletic fields on High Street and about 150 yards from the apartment complex on Lawrence Street.
Barnes was wounded in the shooting and was discharged from the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Plains Township, the day after the shooting, around the time state police investigators found a .22-caliber revolver wrapped inside a jacket in a kitchen cabinet in his Main Street apartment. Barnes was not a suspect when he was discharged police said then.
By the time Barnes officially became a wanted man, he had fled the area. He was arrested the night of May 25, 2012, in Philadelphia and was carrying a gun when U.S. Marshals took him into custody, police said.
A trial was set to begin on April 8 of this year, but in February Barnes told Vough he wanted new lawyers, hadn’t seen any court papers and did not feel it was in his best interests to go to trial at that time. His trial date was later continued until September.
During a Sept. 12 hearing, assistant district attorneys Molly Hanlon Mirabito and Brian Coleman were in the process of calling witnesses to testify that Barnes had agreed to allow police to obtain DNA and other evidence — which his attorneys wanted thrown out — when Barnes became ill. The courtroom was emptied and, within minutes, paramedics took Barnes from the courtroom in a wheelchair.
His hearing later resumed, and the following week Vough rejected Barnes’s bid to have the evidence tossed.
According to court documents, Barnes was granted credit for 562 days of time served. Ferentino told The Times Leader that Barnes is likely to spend 20 to 25 years in prison.
Monday’s sentence will run concurrently to a 6 1/4- to 12 1/2-year sentence he already is serving in a December 2011 case involving car theft, scuffling with police, and drug and gun possession.
In addition to the sentence, Barnes also must pay $8,040 in funeral expenses to Trollinger’s family, $600 for videographer costs in the case and $19,941 in prosecution costs.