David Gabriel Barger, a 23-year-old man acquitted in October of first-degree murder, was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for stealing a vehicle.
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen sentenced Barger to the maximum possible term for felony vehicle theft -- a charge he was convicted of at trial.
Reinholtsen granted Barger 1,020 days credit for time served, giving him 75 total days remaining on his prison term. Following his release, the judge ordered Barger be placed on parole for three years.
In late October, a jury found Barger not guilty of murder, and hung on the lesser count of second-degree murder, with eight of 12 jurors in favor of acquittal. Those jurors heard evidence indicating that in mid-July of 2003, Barger, Rex Shinn and three other passengers, drove in Shinn's truck to a marijuana farm in Honeydew operated by Scott Starnes.
Witness testimony indicated that at the time, Barger was being paid by Starnes to work on the marijuana growing operation, and Shinn had recently been fired by Starnes.
Barger and Shinn parked the truck at the gated entrance to the Honeydew property, and left their passengers inside as they walked up the mountain road to Starnes' residence.
At trial, the passengers who waited in the truck testified after Barger and Shinn left, they heard the sound of gunshots before Barger -- who was reportedly high on methamphetamine at the time -- returned to the truck alone.
Barger drove the truck, and passengers, away from the Honeydew property, and later abandoned the vehicle near Petrolia. At the conclusion of his trial, the jury found Barger guilty of felony vehicle theft for taking Shinn's truck.
”It seems to me, under those circumstances, the callousness of the offense (vehicle theft) makes the matter more serious,” Reinholtsen said Thursday, explaining why he was choosing the aggravated sentence.
Shinn's body was later discovered by investigators, buried on the Honeydew property. An autopsy showed Shinn had been shot twice in the head and once in the neck. ☛TS Barger sentenced for vehicle theft
☛TS Barger not guilty of first-degree murder
☛TS Barger murder trial to begin this week
☛TS a 2003 murder case