Barton sentenced for aggravated vehicular homicide

Kaitlyn Barton, 20, of 101 Stonecrest Drive, Marietta, appears with her attorney George Cosenza, left, in Washington County Common Pleas Court on Monday for sentencing for aggravated vehicular homicide. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

MARIETTA — The Marietta woman convicted of the aggravated vehicular homicide of a Parkersburg man was sentenced to prison Monday.

Kaitlyn Barton, 20, of 101 Stonecrest Drive, was visibly crying and shaking throughout the sentencing hearing in Washington County Common Pleas Court on Monday and chose to speak before Judge Mark Kerenyi handed down her sentence.

“I just want to say I’m sorry,” Barton said as she turned to the gallery, where more than 20 people, both family of hers and that of Chad Matthew Cokeley, 24, of Parkersburg, her victim, were seated. “I wish I could trade my life for his.”

“We wish you could too,” said one member of the crowd, before being hushed by one of the three Washington County Sheriff’s deputies in place between the counsel tables and gallery.

Barton previously pleaded no contest and was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, on Oct. 19, for driving under a suspended license and causing the death of Cokeley.

Cokeley sustained a broken neck and died at the scene off a hill on Glendale Extension. His autopsy showed he had not been drinking whereas Barton’s bloodwork found her at 0.118 blood-alcohol content.

Witnesses stated earlier in the evening the pair were together consuming alcohol, but the accident wasn’t found until the early hours of the morning.

“There are still a lot of questions as to why they were together, and when did the accident actually happen,” noted Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings after sentencing.

Rings also read in court a statement from Cokeley’s mother before Barton’s sentence was imposed.

“You hear people talk about the cost of death, most people think of money. But for me when I hear of the cost that cost to me is and was the mental, emotion and physical cost to myself, family and friends. Sunday morning on the 23rd day of April was a day that will live in my heart and mind and never go away,” read Rings. “That day has ruined my life … It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to get that call and hear ‘I’m sorry, your son is gone.'”

Kerenyi noted that both the defense and prosecution had agreed upon a sentence for Barton, being mandatory according to state law. Kerenyi sentenced Barton to three years of prison with 117 days credit for time served prior to sentencing, and three years of probation.

“I’m also suspending the driver’s license beginning after the defendant is released from prison, for three years,” he noted on the record Monday.

After the sentencing, Cosenza spoke a comment Barton had made in court, that her side of the story will never be known.

“I just want to make it clear that there was fault on both sides in this case,” said Cosenza. “What’s done is done but Mr. Cokeley brought the alcohol to Kaitlyn’s home, she was underage and he gave her that alcohol to drink. Our investigation showed through witnesses that were there for part of the night that he was pretending to drink alcohol. But he wasn’t because his blood alcohol level was zero.”

Barton suffered brain damage and ultimately does not remember the events of that night.

“She didn’t plead to driving under the influence causing death. She pleaded to driving recklessly while having a suspended license, causing death. She took complete responsibility for what she did,” Cosenza concluded.