LEE COUNTY, Ala. — On Friday, 36-year-old George Barton was found guilty of capital murder in the death of his five-year-old stepdaughter, Caley Presley. On Monday, he learned that he would spend life in prison without the possibility of parole for the crime.
From the onset of the trial, the state was seeking the death penalty against Barton, but the defense opted for life without the possibility of parole.
“There are lines that should not be crossed and one of them is killing our children,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Jessica Ventiere said. “When you cross that line, you forfeit your right to walk this earth with the rest of us because you took out the most innocent, the most unprotected, the most defenseless.”
“It’s no secret that Alabama prisons are extremely dangerous places where people are housed,” Defense Attorney W. Todd Crutchfield said. “If you give George a life sentence without the possibility of parole, he is not going to be in some golf-resort, federal prison. But, will live in a small cell with minimal exposure to humanity and no exposure to the outside world except phone calls and visits from his family.”
The court also heard from members of Barton’s family such as his mother who told the court that Barton was a different person when he got out of the Air Force. She said that she knew something was wrong with her son, but did not know what. The court also heard from other family members who spoke to the Christ-centered life Barton grew up in and continues to live.
Prior to Barton’s family taking the stand, Presley’s preschool teacher, Ann Taylor spoke to the energetic and outgoing student Caley Presley was.She went on to discuss the book her daughter wrote about Caley titled, Princess Caley.
Just before 4 central time, the jury came back with a decision that they did not vote unanimously that Presley’s murder heinous, atrocious or cruel way. Had the jury vote unanimously, it would have taken 10 out of 12 jurors to agree on the death penalty.
District Attorney Brandon Hughes said the jury felt the state did not meet the burden of proof of showing that Caley was murdered in a heinous, atrocious or cruel way, which left Judge Jacob Walker with life in prison without parole as the only option.
“Anytime an adult, grown man, a caregiver, a stepfather, beats to death a five-year-old little girl, I’m not sure how anyone could see that as anything other than heinous, atrocious and cruel,” Hughes said. “But you know what, that’s the jury system we have. They’ve spoken. But either way, this monster, George Barton is going away forever.”