Local News

Man enters plea in Clayton woman's brutal death

Posted February 2, 2009
Updated February 3, 2009

— A man entered an Alford plea Monday to harassing and killing his ex-girlfriend almost three years ago.

Dennis Shaw pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the April 18, 2006, death of Rhonda Barnes in her Clayton home.

A judge will hear testimony Tuesday before sentencing Shaw, who admits prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him but not that he committed the crime.

As part of the plea, Shaw also had to admit that Barnes suffered greatly before dying, an aggravating factor that could add to the prison time Shaw receives.

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Police said Shaw tormented Barnes, 38, the mother of his child, for a year before killing her, including spray-painting obscenities on her house and vandalizing her car.

Two days before her death, she told police she feared for her life.

She was killed by a blow to the head, but authorities said her body was burned beyond recognition after sulfuric acid was poured on her.

Prosecutors said Monday that blood was found throughout her Grovewood Drive house, leading from the front porch to the kitchen, where her body was found


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  • news4u Feb 4, 2009


    How The Honorable James Floyd Ammons Jr. got his judgeship.

  • woodrowboyd2 Feb 3, 2009

    whats left to give in n.c.
    we dont do the death thing now

  • news4u Feb 3, 2009

    Actually, Johnston DA Susan Doyle needs to return to Buncombe County. Check her short track record.

  • news4u Feb 3, 2009

    This is indeed a travesty. Another blunder by Judge Jim Ammons.

  • FromClayton Feb 3, 2009

    If it had been me, I would have filed a restraining order with the Clayton Police and gone through the proper channels. I would have also taken productive steps to protect myself like moving in with my daddy and his gun collection for a week or so. Maybe even my crazy uncle. No one is getting past him.

    But like someone else said, I am NOT blaming the victem. I am just saying what I would have done if a crazy ex was after me. No one can protect you like family... and a few guns passed down through the generations.

  • rcrdngcountry Feb 3, 2009

    i would be ashamed to charge him with second degree murder.this
    is about as cold as it gets. it sends others a bad siginal.
    plead guilty to second degree murder, hardly any time at all.
    for a crime such as this, the death penilty, is the only answer,
    in a reasonal time, not 20 years down the road. another young
    life was wasted. what a shame.

  • janettedder Feb 3, 2009

    After going through my brother's murder in Johnston County (2 yrs 1 month and 1 week later)we get to trial for it to be pled from 1st degree to 2nd degree murder. Johnston County has no where near the staff nor resources you see in Durham, Wake, and Mecklenburg counties. Johnston Counties population has grown significantly in the last 2 years but their law enforcement and Judicial System has not. The D.A.'s office currently covers not one county but 3. I am sure the current D.A. is still cleaning up the mess of her predecessor - Tom Locke.

  • ambidextrous cat Feb 3, 2009

    Why does he deserve to live after what he did? Seriously? the flaws of our justice system are numerous. No one ever gets what he or she deserves. I don't want a man like this to get out on the streets again. I feel that if the victim was white that he would certainly get the death penalty.

  • ncmickey Feb 3, 2009

    I wonder if there was some evidence problems or something that made this a good deal for the DA. Something that coulda affected a trial. I hope he gets 40+ more for the year of torment to the victim

  • kiediss Feb 3, 2009

    anne53ozzy said: "Where is the public outcry now while we are still screaming about Eve Carson's horrific death? How is this man any less a candidate for life w out parole?
    I AGREE Completely! I mean... is this the kind of evil we want out on the street to kill again? He obvioulsy has no regard for human life.