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Sat, Feb. 22

Motel shooter, fugitive returns for sentencing

A 21-year-old man who escaped from Mohave County Jail when he was 17 will be sentenced soon for shooting two North Carolina men at a Kingman motel in April 1998.

Joseph Barela walked away from the Mohave County Jail on Feb.

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

According to a Mohave County Sheriff's Office press release, Barela assumed the identity of an inmate assigned to a cleanup detail within the jail.

He subsequently was let out of his cell and fled the facility around 2:30 a.m.

through a door.

Barela's sentencing date for the 1998 shootings is Oct.

16 before Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn.

A trial-management hearing date for charges related to Barela's jailbreak is set for Oct.

27.

Barela was eventually arrested in El Paso, Texas, and sentenced to 40 years in prison for aggravated robbery of a man and woman, who were both shot.

Barela was recently extradited from Texas to be sentenced for the Kingman motel shootings and to face charges of escaping from jail and missing court appearances.

He originally pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted second-degree murder.

As part of a plea agreement, charges of armed robbery and two counts of aggravated assault were to be dismissed.

Barela faces up to 31 years in prison for the motel shootings, plus an additional seven and one-half years if convicted of breaking out of jail.

He can be fined up to $300,000 and ordered to pay restitutions.

On April 11, 1998, Barela, Rickey Hampton and Kauai Andres entered a hotel room in the 3200 block of East Andy Devine Avenue.

According to file information, Barela had a handgun with him and Hampton was carrying a rifle.

In the motel room, Barela shot Joseph Hipp and William Owenby one time each.

Andres and Hampton are 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.

According to Andrus' comments from his presentence investigation, "The reason I am here is because I was trying to support my (methamphetamine) addiction.

I didn't realize what I was doing at the time.

… I wasn't even in the room when it happened." Andrus said he left the room before Barela shot Hipp and Owenby.

Andrus and Hampton were 17 at the time.

Barela was 16.

An Oct.

28 letter to Conn from Dwaine Mathis of Beverly Healthcare of North Carolina states that Debra Owenby "has had to witness her son endure intolerable and incessant pain as a result of the shooting." Mathis' letter said Owenby's mother "is providing care to her now-incapacitated son.

… The financial cost of Billy's injuries are $20,000-plus."

Owenby, then 24, 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 an interview of Hipp conducted by Dean Brice of the Kingman Police Department, Barela met Hipp and Owenby in the motel parking lot and asked them for a cigarette and then drugs.

Hipp said they didn't have any cigarettes but would like to smoke marijuana and told Barela to come to their room if he found any.

Hipp and Owenby returned to their room and left the door open.

Thirty minutes later, Barela entered the room with Andrus and Hampton and closed the door.

Hipp and Owenby were robbed of $200 before they were shot, police reports in the court file state.

Barela, Hampton and Andrus were partying in another room at the motel that had been rented by Rita Moreno, 19, the reports state.

According to the court file, Barela said he was under the influence of the drug "speed" at the time of the incident.

A call to Barela's attorney, Dan Kaiser, for comment was not returned.

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