I am a Killer (2018) s02e02 Episode Script


I agreed to be adopted.
I had my own room.
I got a summer camp I go to every year.
I mean, I was ecstatic.
I was I was overjoyed.
I could live.
I was doing it right.
You always had fun.
But it came with consequence.
I think I wanted the world to feel my pain.
I didn't want to exist.
I just wanted to die.
I No more.
This is a true story.
I'll start it off like that.
I just wanted to rebel.
I wanted to cause chaos.
I looked over at him.
We'll see who kills who, huh? I made the choice.
I took his life.
It's something that I never intended to do, I wish I didn't do.
I knew I was gonna get out of that car and murder those two men.
As he kneeled in front of me, all I remember is pulling the trigger.
I'd killed them both.
I had stabbed them to death.
One of the waitresses from Steak 'n Shake gave me a call saying, "Your son's father has been here, sitting in one of our booths, smoking and just drinking for, like, over 24 hours.
" I immediately went up to see what was going on, and I tried to talk to him.
And he looked at me with the most evil look I could ever see in my life.
And he was like, "Get the 'F' out of my face.
" I didn't know what to think, and I kind of just stood there.
And then I just I just left.
Ready? My name is David Barnett.
I was originally charged with two first-degree murders, and I received the death penalty for both.
I was born in St.
Louis City, Missouri.
I don't remember any of the places where I actually lived.
But the smells and the sounds of St.
Louis are something you just can't forget.
My mother did not want me when I was born.
Basically, I I ended up in the care of Robert Biggerstaff, my mother's friend.
He was an alcoholic.
He was in and out of jail a lot.
The early years of my childhood were clouded with being molested, beaten, having my nose broken.
I was running around in ragged and dirty clothes.
I was soiled.
Didn't bathe for days at a time.
Sometimes I had to fetch my own food out of vending machines with hangers.
I was just like a stuffed animal that sat on the shelf, and when people wanted me, they grabbed me.
Other than that, all the memories I had of my childhood were I was alone.
I believe I was about four or five years old when the Department of Family Services finally caught up with, I guess, my existence.
And I still remember that woman to this day, but I do not remember any of her features.
And I don't know why my mind clouds that, but it was the first loving hug that I had in a long time.
The only thing I remember her saying was, "I'm gonna take you away from this.
" I don't know how long I stayed with DFS.
While I was there, I became attached to a stuffed animal.
I don't know why.
But I I had it.
Family Services contacted Robert somehow, and they had instructed me to be on good behavior when he came for a visit.
On the visit, they left us alone in the room, and he just scooped me up and ran away.
The last memory I have of that place was dropping that animal in the hallway.
He hid me out for a couple weeks in the trunk of his car.
It seemed like there were thunderstorms every day for the entire time.
So I'm cramped in the back of a dark trunk.
I was scared.
I didn't know what was going on.
I wasn't being bathed.
I wasn't being fed every day.
But a couple weeks later, uh, DFS caught up with us.
And he was eventually arrested, and I never saw him again.
I instantly fell in love with that family, 'cause it was a family.
Rita was the first one I could call "Mother.
" I mean, she wasn't my mother, but I just felt that, if I had a mother, that's how she would treat me.
And it's like everything they did was trying to make me better.
I loved them.
And then, uh, one day, Rita got an opportunity to go across seas and study.
They broke the news that I would be leaving them.
They couldn't take me with them because they were leaving.
The only thing I thought was, "I did something wrong.
" I just figured, like, you know, being beaten and molested so far in my life through the first five or six years It stopped.
It's like now they were getting rid of me 'cause I wasn't doing something right.
John was a computer teacher.
He was not, uh, an average man.
He was very intellectual.
I wasn't even taken back by the fact that there wasn't a woman with him.
I didn't know he wasn't married.
He was single.
He was like a mother and father all in one.
I couldn't have asked for anything better.
He was a charming man.
He was very caring.
And the one thing I did like is he didn't touch me.
Almost like he knew, "Hey, look, this child's damaged.
I don't want to push him away.
" I didn't know that then.
I see that now.
He took me out to dinner one day and sat me down.
He's like, "Would you like to be my son?" I said, "Well, I am.
" And he said, "Would you like to be adopted?" I mean, I was ecstatic.
I was I was overjoyed.
So I agreed to be adopted.
And we went to court, and that was actually one of the happiest memories of my childhood, the day I was adopted, and I knew that I had a parental figure forever.
I felt that I was moving into a better lifestyle with John Barnett in Webster Groves.
Webster was a middle-class, um, city.
It wasn't poverty style, like I would have been used to growing up.
Places looked nice.
The city itself was clean, and the houses were in better condition.
A couple months into being adopted, I got kind of worried about who John actually was.
I started getting hit for not meeting his expectations, which His expectations were already higher than kids my age.
He was forcing me to perform out of my age group.
John would get physical, leave marks, break skin, bruises, welts, whatever it was but then his comfort was starting to cradle me, and hold me closer, and start kissing my ears, and that didn't feel right.
That gradually became every other night or, you know, once or twice a week to every other night to every night.
"Hey, come sit on my lap for a while.
Give me a hug.
" And I noticed that there was something going on with his body.
I was only eight years old, nine years old.
I knew something was wrong.
He touched me inappropriately.
Genitals He'd stick his tongue in my ear.
I started to almost, like, black out when I'd sit on his lap.
Sometimes I wouldn't remember what he did because I told myself, if I didn't want to feel, I had to be numb.
I didn't want to exist.
I just wanted to die.
I No more.
I instantly liked Eric.
He was charming.
He was real conscious about these two little buck teeth he had in the front.
They were kind of twisted.
I was like I loved him.
He was, he was He was a bundle of joy.
But then I started seeing John call Eric out in the same way it was happening to me.
And I felt defenseless.
I felt like I robbed Eric of his childhood.
I'm the oldest, and I was supposed to protect them.
But I couldn't.
And at the same time, I was glad it wasn't me.
I felt bad because I let it be him.
Every other Sunday, we would gather with his parents, and we'd have what they call a family dinner.
I loved Leona as soon as I met her.
She was very warm and welcoming.
She taught me how to cook.
We never told them anything about what was going on with John.
I was nervous of how Clifford would react, because he was he was kind of stern.
Several times, Clifford You'd get the upside of the back of your head, just like any parent would do to a kid.
Not hard, but he'd always catch me with that ring.
And he wore the same kind of class ring John wore.
When he hit me, it was like John was hitting me again in the back of the head with the ring, over and over and over.
So I started to see Clifford as John, and I couldn't look past that.
When I saw John, I saw Clifford.
When I saw Clifford, I saw John.
But when I saw Leona, I was like, "Can I give you a hug?" She was the only love in that family.
I was living with friends here and there, and I wouldn't tell my friends exactly what was going on, but I think they kind of knew.
I was still holding a job, but I was sleeping everywhere.
Leona kind of caught on.
She asked me how I was doing.
I was like, "Oh, I'm fine.
" She said, "How are you really doing?" And I wanted so much to tell her about what was going on with John.
I just wanted to look at her and be like, "You don't know about the abuse.
You don't know about him trying to, basically, fuck me when I was nine, ten years old, uh, laying on top of me" I I wanted to tell her all that.
I was like Anything that I would say that was negative towards John, she would speak up in a supportive way or a protective measure.
Um So I felt that, if I pressed too hard, I would be rejected instantly.
When they came home, I was asleep.
And when I came to, we started discussing things.
The last thing I remember was talking to her, and I I I've tried to remember every day since my case what happened, how did the events go down, what was said that triggered what triggered.
She was talking about a conversation she had with John.
I remember seeing Clifford.
Clifford said something about John.
And I went I don't know where I went.
I went somewhere.
When I finally realized what was going on, I was standing looking at a wall.
And when I looked down, Clifford was at my left.
And I didn't have blood on my hands.
So I didn't know where did all the blood come from.
I didn't know what happ I was scared to death.
I didn't know what to do.
And I was like, "Man, what did you do?" And I'm looking around like, "Is there anybody else here?" And I see Leona over there.
I step over, and I see Leona down the hallway.
And I was scared.
I'd killed them both.
I'd stabbed them to death.
The damage that was done to their bodies, when I saw the reports, broken ribs, jaw completely disaligned, dozens of stab wounds with multiple knives I don't know where they came from.
They said they came from the kitchen.
I don't remember getting them.
I went into a state of overkill or manic rage.
I lost consciousness.
And I killed two innocent people.
This was home for eight, nine, ten days.
I sat right here.
Middle row, second seat from the right.
But it brings back a flood of memories.
I see David's face all the time.
David's face never leaves.
My name is Andy Dazey.
I was the jury foreman on the David Barnett 1997 court case.
You couldn't help but be intimidated by the severity of the charges against David Barnett.
I believe there was somewhere around five knives used, stab wounds were, uh were north of 20.
This attack was so violent that it snapped knife blades off the handle.
It impaled knives so deeply that, upon lodging them uh, down in the bone structure, that he had to go back into the kitchen and retrieve multiple knives.
So each of his grandparents suffered a very violent, slow, painful, brutal death.
That weighed heavily in each of our hearts with regard to doing the right thing.
In order to impose a death sentence, you have to have unanimous agreement amongst all the jurors.
And I remember getting up from the table, and walking to the window and almost holding back tears, saying, "Twelve of us has to make the decision.
Eleven have already done it.
Am I there? Have I come to the firmness in my heart to say this guy shouldn't live?" And I finally did.
It's "Happy birthday to my loving mother.
Your son David.
" He does a lot of flowers, but sometimes he does other things.
He never forgets a birthday, or Mother's Day, or Christmas.
I've got to say, I have two biological children, and they forget.
David does not forget.
He's very sweet and thoughtful.
He calls me "Mom.
" I I'm the closest thing he has.
My name is Rita Reames.
David Barnett was our foster son from the time he was aged six and a half until just past his seventh birthday.
Just being part of the family to him was a wonderful life.
He loved it.
He was never violent.
You know, he was he was a good kid.
I think he would have continued to improve and blossom in a stable family environment, a loving family environment.
On the other hand, he was a challenge in some ways.
You could tell, in the wrong environment, he was not going to do well.
When I found David had killed two people Shocking.
I did not expect that.
Especially when I found out these were nice people.
They had done him no harm.
I sat through all of the punishment phase trial.
His attorney at the time did not use any of the background material for any of the abuse and what happened to him from the time he was adopted until he went to jail.
I asked her why none of this was being used to help David.
And her only answer to me, which was very curt, was "I don't think it'll do him any good.
It'll hurt him more than help him.
" That was all she would say to me, and she kept walking.
David had a long list of people's names that he would have wanted to be witnesses at the trial.
His first public defender did not contact one person on that list.
Not one.
I'm Jason Kingdon, and we are going into old Webster Groves, to see where me and David grew up.
David lived with John Barnett, who was the man who adopted David, and the other two boys that John had adopted.
It seemed like, at first, like they were this really cool family that had this dad that was, uh, like, a soccer coach, and really into the kids, and really into sports.
It wasn't until about six months into knowing David that some things started to happen.
They would lock themselves in their room and hide from John.
They were so scared to come out of their rooms and be around John that when they had to urinate, they wouldn't go to the bathroom.
They would open the window and urinate out the window.
David's grandparents lived right there in that house.
You know, they're just two houses away.
That place was more comfortable to us.
We'd go over there after school.
They would have milk and cookies laid out for us.
It's crazy how this house was so scary to us, and that house was so pleasant.
The picture was, basically, a torso with a little bit of thighs and legs and and almost maybe up to the neckline of a young, prepubescent boy, prepubescent meaning no pubic hair, and John's arm was holding the boy's penis in the picture.
John had a very hairy arm, and he had a certain ring that he always wore that was like a class ring.
That ring and that arm were in the photograph.
We knew it was John.
We thought this picture was irrefutable evidence that nobody could argue with.
Nobody could, like, say that this isn't real.
We were so happy.
This was going to be the end of it.
It was this sensational thing that was about to happen.
We walked on foot up to this police station, and we thought, "Maybe this will, like, explain to the detective in Webster Groves Police Department why we're so unruly, and so angry, and just are doing a lot of things that we're doing.
Maybe she'll understand.
" As soon as she saw that picture, I could tell she was scared to death.
She was more afraid of it than we were.
She slid the picture right back to David the exact way he had slid it to her, and she immediately told me to get out of the room.
When she was done having her talk with him, he stormed out of this door right here.
I saw he had the picture in his hand.
"What are you doing with that picture? Why do you still have the picture?" "They won't do anything for us.
They won't help us.
" He was just devastated.
This was the top of the food chain for us.
There was nowhere else to go.
There was nobody else to trust.
I know it changed David that day.
John was a great friend.
He was funny, especially witty, and great to be around.
He was successful in Information Technology, holding a position as a director, but he gave up the big salary, and he taught kids, many of them disadvantaged, uh, data processing at West County Technical High School.
He was a darn good and a well-loved school bus driver, good enough to be awarded School Bus Driver of the Year several times.
But John was also wise.
He had the wisdom to discern what his life was all about, and that was kids.
He became a loving foster father, an adoptive father, and his kids had the opportunity to live and grow and and do well.
I'm Fred Domke, and, uh, I was John Barnett's best friend, and I was privileged to be able to deliver a eulogy at John's funeral, and I wanted to share that with you to kind of give a feel for the kind of man that John Barnett was.
I've neverdelved into what the allegations are, but I can just generically say he was a great guy.
And And, uh, I don't I don't need to know any more.
I already know it.
Um, so, if somebody sees something other than that, how how they think they would know better than I did, when I spent 49 years with John, I just don't understand how that could possibly be.
I never seen him touch the boys or anything.
I never seen him do that to them.
I'm Secil Schodroski.
I was in high school, tenth grade, at West County Tech.
And John Barnett was my computer teacher.
He was tall.
He was nice.
His eyes were blue.
There was something about him.
I wanted to see him every morning, communicate with him, and have him smile back at me, and that would make me feel special.
I was 14.
I was being beaten a lot at home.
That's how I ended up at the Barnetts' house.
I never witnessed him being abusive, or hitting them, or sexual abuse.
But it was different with me.
He would wait for the boys to go to sleep.
I would, like, stay on the couch or whatever, and he would come down, and rub on me, and kiss on me, and put his hands different places, and things like that.
And in my brain, I thought it was okay, 'cause I loved him.
I was just a little girl, you know.
I would say he is a pedophile, or was, and he was a predator.
David and I were kind of hanging out and was kind of dancing together and singing songs.
I mean, there was something kind of brewing.
It just kind of happened.
And we, um uh Sex was involved.
I'm not on birth control or anything.
And then, um They told me I was pregnant.
John Barnett demanded that I get an abortion.
He offered to pay for it.
He He's mad I'm with his son, and now I understand he was probably jealous.
He was probably upset I was not with him anymore.
David was so proud of Setham, and, uh, he wanted to just hold him and wanted to feed him, so, um, we tried to make things work.
And that didn't go too well.
David was up late.
He was, um, smoking with my sister and some friends and playing cards, and um, I had to go to bed early.
I had college classes in the morning.
He wasn't going to school.
I had to pay a lady to keep Setham, because David just couldn't do it.
I didn't know how to handle that.
And I just couldn't be with him anymore.
I pushed him away.
I know I did.
I'm sure that hurt him.
He's always been pushed away his whole life.
Then, here, I did the same thing.
I think, before a jury says to a person, "We are going to ask the State of Missouri to kill you," his story ought to be told.
And I don't think it was in his trial.
My name is Elizabeth Carlyle, and I was one of David Barnett's lawyers in the last stages of this case.
This is actually a report in September of 1992.
DFS was brought in after the boys talked to a detective in Glendale.
And they talked about the different kinds of physical and sexual abuse that they had experienced.
There are all these warning signals, all these red flags that aren't addressed.
I mean, obviously, it's tragic, but it's also it also certainly made I think, made us really angry.
I think he was let down by the schools he went to, he was let down by the Division of Family Services, he was let down by the police.
Any place he turned for help, he didn't get it.
I think I was at the mall, getting food in the food court or something, when, all of a sudden, all these texts start coming through.
"We did it! We did it! David's off death row!" And I just screamed really loud in the mall.
I had a lot of people looking over my way, but I mean, just my heart was rejoicing because I knew a great injustice had been undone.
When I first was starting to go visit him, it was tough.
David burst into tears a lot on our visits.
I just truly, honestly think that David doesn't know why that he couldn't control himself.
He didn't go there to kill his grandparents that day.
David had no ill will towards them whatsoever.
He just said, "I just wanted to finally be over with this and let them know what John was doing.
" So, he told them everything.
He told them what John had done to him.
He told them what John had done to Eric, and it just did not go the way that David thought it was going to go.
There were no open, loving arms.
They were hurt.
They were offended.
They didn't want to hear it anymore.
You know, he's hearing that from the two people that he thought loved him.
He didn't have anybody else.
But all of that brutality, and that hatred, and that anger was not directed towards the grandparents.
It It just wasn't.
Every stab wound was to John.
That was the culmination of David's whole life, giving them that confession.
I mean, that was the moment.
I believe that I deserve where I'm at.
I deserve the situation that I face every day.
And I'm blessed to have it.
I cannot remember step-by-step what happened.
I remember the beginning, and I remember the result was horrifying.
Uh, the beginning, I was in a conversation, trying to explain to them, "Hey, look, I can't go back and live with John.
" I did not have the direct words to point a finger at John.
"Hey, John did this to me.
" I don't think I had those skills at that time.
But that day, in my own way I believe 100% a part of me was trying to say what happened.
There's not a day that goes by I don't think of Clifford and Leona.
They live in my heart.
Leona, I believe if she was standing in front of me, she'd give me a hug and say she understood, she forgave me.
So would Clifford.
I don't hate John.
I didn't hate John then.
I still love John for what he tried to do.
I forgive him.
He had his own problems, his own things that he couldn't overcome.
So he gave in to his own desires, whether they were psychologically or physical, sexual.
Uh, he just couldn't overcome 'em.
So I still respect the fact and appreciate the fact that he tried to be, um, a dad, even though he had he had monsters.
That's the only way to put it.
The weird thing I've never admitted to anyone is, when they gave me life without, I felt that they, literally, put me in torment, because I had to live the rest of my life like this.
But that's not so much the case.
The more support I had, the more I was willing to live.
There's a connection between prisoners of, "Hey, you know, we messed up.
We're no different than anyone else.
We're not gonna live in our regrets.
We're gonna live with them and push forward.
" I believe that I will be out.
It's just a couple years down the road.
It's all gonna change.
And, hopefully, I can be a productive member of society.

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