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Last updated 4:43AM ET
February 28, 2021
Barksdale Sentenced To Life For Killing Police Officers
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - The formality of a trial for Farron Barksdale, who pleaded guilty to capital murder in the shooting deaths of two Athens policemen, turned emotional as a recording of the officers' final words and frantic calls by a dispatcher were played for the jury.

Barksdale, 32, who received a sentence of life without the possibility of parole under his plea agreement, has admitted shooting Officer Tony Mims, 40, and Sgt. Larry Russell, 42, on Jan. 2, 2004 as they arrived one after the other at an Athens residence.

On the recording played Monday, Mims could be heard saying "10-23," code for "arrived at scene," moments before being gunned down in his car by 10 rounds from an assault rifle. The car rolled into a fence at the side of the house.

Russell could be heard on the static-filled recording saying "10-4," which meant "acknowledgment," after being summoned to the house by Barksdale's 911 call and arriving after Mims. Russell was fatally shot opening his patrol car door.

Some of the officers' family members left the courtroom in tears as dispatcher Vickie Fuqua and Lt. Floyd Johnson could be heard frantically repeating "103, 111, status," and "103, 111, check your mike." The police identification number for Mims was 111; for Russell it was 103.

As neighbors called for police and medical help after seeing Russell on the ground, Barksdale went outside and fired shots into the air and the ground, witnesses said. Ambulance driver Mark Huseth, now a fireman, arrived from the hospital and saw Barksdale pointing a rifle at him. Then Barksdale threw the rifle to the ground.

John Hopkins, a neighbor, told Barksdale to lie on his belly with his arms out, while Huseth treated the mortally wounded Russell and got the officer's gun for protection in case Barksdale resisted. Other officers then arrived and arrested Barksdale, who initially had called 911 demanding someone "direct me to the FBI" without saying why.

Defense attorneys had contended that Barksdale, who had a history of mental illness, was a paranoid schizophrenic. But doctors found him mentally competent to stand trial, and the plea deal was reached. The slain officers' families supported the agreement, while Athens officers did not.

Under Alabama's capital murder law, a trial has to be held even if the defendant pleads guilty. Barksdale's trial lasted one day, with the jury seated before lunch Monday.

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