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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
1:52 PM Mon, Dec. 10th

Man sentenced to 28 years for two attempted murders

Joe Barela was sentenced to 28 years in prison on Friday for the attempted murders of two North Carolina men at a Kingman motel in April 1998.

Judge Steven Conn sentenced Barela to 14 years for each attempted murder count, and ruled that that sentences would run consecutively, meaning back to back.

Conn said for him to oppose consecutive sentences would be saying to one of the victims that his suffering didn't count.

Conn could have imposed the sentences concurrently, meaning at the same time.

The maximum sentence Barela could have received was 31 years.

Both of Barela's victims had medical bills in excess of $20,000, but because no restitution documentation was provided, none was ordered, said prosecuting attorney Derek Carlisle.

On April 11, 1998, Barela and two other men entered a hotel room in the 3200 block of East Andy Devine Avenue.

Barela shot Joseph Hipp and William Owenby each one time in the neck after robbing them of some $200.

Owenby was shot below the right ear, and the bullet fractured his second vertebrae.

Hipp was shot to the left of his Adam's apple, and the bullet lodged in his neck.

According to the court file, Barela said he was on speed at the time of the incident.

Judge Conn heard arguments for aggravating and mitigating factors from both the prosecution and defense witnesses before announcing his decision.

Conn said Barela, who was 16 when he committed the felonious acts, "probably didn't have the capability of making intelligent, thoughtful decisions that he would be able to make today."

Another mitigating factor Conn considered was that "he was likely under the influence of methamphetamine at the time … it's clear from the report that he was addicted to methamphetamine at the time."

In spite of consideration he gave to mitigating factors, Conn said aggravating factors outweighed them, including the fact that Barela had accomplices, his actions resulted in serious injury and/or emotional harm to the victims, and that the crimes were especially cruel and heinous.

Kauai Andres and Rickey Hampton, Barela's accomplices, are currently serving 13-year sentences in Arizona for armed robbery.

According to their plea agreements, each had charges of aggravated assault and attempted first-degree murder dropped.

Still pending against Barela is a charge of escape due to him walking away from the Mohave County Jail on Feb.

27, 1999, just 10 days before he was to be sentenced.

Barela could get another 7 1/2 years for the escape charge.

According to a sheriff's office press release, Barela assumed the identity of an inmate assigned to clean up detail within the jail.

He subsequently was removed from his cell, and gained access to an exit door and fled the facility on foot around 2:30 in the morning.

After leaving Kingman, Barela was arrested in El Paso and sentenced to 40 years in prison for the robbery-related shootings of man and woman.

A Texas jury found Barela guilty on two counts of aggravated robbery.

Barela was extradited from Texas to face charges in Arizona.

Conn ruled Friday that Barela would serve 28 years in Arizona prison before he is extradited to Texas to serve his 40-year jail term there.

This, Conn said, was in agreement with the Texas court.

County attorney Derek Carlisle said Barela would be eligible for parole after 24 years in Arizona, and after 20 years in Texas.