Grieving family asks: Why wasn't gunman in jail?

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on December 31, 2010 at 1:10 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 31 at 4:41 PM

ARLINGTON — Family members say months of threats and violence spilled out Tuesday night in the apartment of their daughter, Kimberly Carter.

She had been dating 38-year-old Barnes Nettles for years, and was reportedly scared to leave him.

"He didn't come to talk; he came to do bodily harm," said Carter's father, Willie Richardson.

Police said Carter was killed by Nettles, who also murdered Arlington police Officer Jillian Smith before taking his own life.

"There was a time that he put the gun in her mouth and he said he was going to blow her brains out," said Leah Richardson, Carter's stepmother.

The couple met in Tacoma, Washington and moved to Arlington in 2009. But their problems followed them to Texas.

Leah Richardson saw it first-hand back in September, when she called police to report Nettles allegedly choked her and threatened to kill her family.

"He came up and that's when attacked us, and told me he was going to throw me over the railing," she recalled.

All of this was on their mind Tuesday, when Carter's parents got a frantic call from their daughter saying that Nettles had hurt her again.

"She said she was scared to leave," Willie Richardson recalled. "She said, 'Daddy, I think he's outside.' I said, 'OK, wait for the police to come, and I'm on my way and  I'll come and get you.'"

But by the time they arrived at Kimberly's apartment, it was already too late.

"My wife turned the doorknob and pushed the door open, and that's when it was obvious that it had already occurred," Willie Richardson said.

They saw Officer Jillian Smith lying in a pool of blood and shattered glass.

They later learned that their daughter was shot in a bedroom of her apartment, and their 11-year-old granddaughter Ciani was protected by the police officer.

"When [Nettles] walked in and had his gun, the officer just  immediately put herself in front of Ciani... and he started shooting," Leah Richardson said.

Nettles — a convicted child rapist with a troubled past — was already out on bond for the alleged assault to Carter's mother.

The only question this family has left is "Why?"

"Frankly, I think he should have been in jail," the victim's father said. "I don't understand how this guy got so many chances. It's not normal to get that many chances with those serious offenses like that."

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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