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Judge upholds Athens man's incompetency plea in assault of elderly victim, orders treatment

Antonio Luvara Barnes

By Joe Johnson

A judge recently sustained an Athens man's special plea of incompetent to stand trial for allegedly beating and choking an elderly man last year during a domestic dispute.

According to an Athens-Clarke County police report, 42-year-old Antonio Luvara Barnes of Atlanta Avenue assaulted the 74-year-old victim the night of Oct. 30, 2019 when the victim intervened in an altercation between Barnes and an ex-girlfriend.

The suspect’s ex reportedly told police that she was sleeping when Barnes entered her bedroom and attacked her, hitting her about 20 times in the face.

The older victim went into the bedroom to check on the commotion when Barnes allegedly hit him in the face and grabbed him by the throat.

The victim said he felt dizzy but never lost consciousness, according to the police report.

While attacking the man, Barnes allegedly said that he was going to kill him, according to the report.

When the elderly victim tried to leave the scene, Barnes allegedly knocked him down and dragged him back into the home, according to the report.

The victim was then able to lock Barnes outside and call 911, the police report noted.

Barnes had fled the scene by the time officers arrived.

Investigators subsequently obtained warrants charging Barnes with inflicting pain on an elderly person, making terroristic threats, as well as battery and simple battery – both under the state Family Violence Act, according to the police report.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office placed a hold on Barnes release due to a probation violation that stemmed from an aggravated assault conviction

A Clarke County grand jury on Jan. 28 indicted Barned on two counts of aggravated assault, family violence battery and exploitation and intimidation of an elderly person for “striking, strangling and dragging” the 74-year-old victim, according to the charging document. The second aggravated assault charge was for Barnes allegedly threatening a third victim with a knife, according to the indictment.

Western Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Eric Norris denied Barnes’ request for bond on the grounds that if released, Barnes would pose a risk to the community and it was likely that he would commit a felony, according to Clarke County Superior Court records.

On Feb. 18, Barnes’ defense attorney filed a motion requesting that his client undergo a mental health evaluation because the attorney believed that Barnes “is suffering or has suffered some mental or psychological infirmity.”

Norris granted the motion and ordered Barnes to be evaluated by the Forensics Services Team from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Based on that evaluation, the judge on July 13 issued an order that sustained Barnes’ plea of mental incompetency to stand trial and ordered him to be returned to the custody of DBHDD to receive treatment for up to 90 days, after which time Barnes is to be returned to court for further proceedings to determine “whether there is a substantial probability that the accused will attain mental competency to stand trial in the foreseeable future,” according to court documents.

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