Woman sentenced to 8 years for role in kidnapping, murder of Lakewood man

Staff writerSeptember 6, 2013 

Aileenah Horton appears in Pierce County Superior Court last year after her arrest in the death of Dean Barker.


An 18-year-old woman who admitted to helping restrain a Lakewood man before he was robbed and killed last year was sentenced Friday morning to more than eight years in prison.

Aileenah Horton previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of Dean Barker, 51.

Horton originally was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery.

Barker was robbed, tied up, beaten and strangled in September 2012. His body was discovered Sept. 8 outside a house for sale in Graham.

Eight people were charged in the case.

Pierce County deputy prosecutor James Schacht argued Horton deserved a high-end sentence of nine years, six months in prison, saying she was "personally and directly involved" in the circumstances leading up to Barker's death.

Barker's daughter, Tiffany Barker, made a tearful address to the court, saying she misses her father and mourns the fact he won't be able to walk her down the aisle when she's married or ever know his grandchildren.

"At the end of the day, my Dad's dead," she said. "There's no justification for what she's done. I don't think there should be any sympathy for her."

Defense attorney Paula Tuckfield Olson argued for a low-end sentence of eight years.

Olson said her client was addicted to drugs and being influenced by her co-defendants, all of whom are older.

"She was by far the youngest person there," the attorney said.

Horton made no statement.

Superior Court Judge Kathryn Nelson called Barker's death "truly horrendous" before sentencing Horton to 106 months.

The motive remains unclear. Horton and another woman told police the co-defendants were angry at Barker because he’d sexually molested two of the women in the weeks before his death and might have had something to do with the temporary disappearance of a young girl.

Prosecutors said they have no evidence either of the allegations is true, and Barker's sister, Cynthia Kramer, wrote a letter to the court saying Horton and her friends had taken advantage of Barker, who suffered a head injury at his electricians job some time ago.

Horton cooperated with detectives after her arrest, and her role in Barker’s death was not as substantial as some of the other co-defendants, according to court records.

Justin Mahaffey, 23, pleaded guilty last week to first-degree murder in Barker's death and admitted strangling him while trying to kidnap him.

Mahaffey was sentenced to more than 28 years.

John Brown, 61, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree manslaughter and second-degree kidnapping and was sentenced to three years in prison. Brown admitted he let other co-defendants use his duct tape to bind Barker at Brown's home in Tacoma the day he died.

Another defendant, Joshua Benjamin Stevens, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping earlier this year in a deal that would see the murder charge dropped if he continues to cooperate with prosecutors.

The remaining co-defendants await trial.

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