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Barnes pleads guilty
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Lanny Barnes will spend the rest of this life in jail after pleading guilty Monday to the 2006 murder of 2-year-old Avery King.


Barnes was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of King and to four 20-year sentences for the aggravated assault of Anita King, Stephanie Casola, Jacob Casola and Isaac Casola. All sentences will run concurrently.


Newton County District Attorney Ken Wynne offered the plea-bargained deal to Barnes' defense after a private meeting with Barnes' doctor. In the meeting, the doctor reportedly told Wynne that Barnes' condition was deteriorating because of the leukemia and that without a bone marrow transplant, Barnes would soon die. Wynne said that even with the transplant, Barnes only had a 33 percent chance of survival.


Wynne conferred with the victim's family, who agreed with the DA that a plea-bargain was the best course of action to ensure some form of justice.


In the courtroom Monday, when entering the plea to Judge Eugene Benton, Wynne described Barnes actions in great detail for the court. In May 2006, Barnes repeatedly ran over the five victims with his mother's car while in a McDonald's parking lot on U.S. Highway 278.


After Barnes was sentenced Paul Casola, Stephanie Casola and Anita King were allowed to speak to the court. They directed their comments to Barnes, who declined to look up from the desk even when asked to by a tearful Stephanie Casola.


"Mr. Barnes, you are the lowest form of humanity that exists," Stephanie Casola said in front of a courtroom packed with weeping family and friends.


Anita King read excerpts of a diary she had written while Avery was still alive, which she had intended to give to Avery when she was older. In the last entry in the diary before Avery's death, Anita King described how happy she felt after her little girl said "I love you, too" back to her.


Anita King then let her daughter have the final word, showing a video of the girl recorded a short while before her death. She said she wanted Barnes to see what he had destroyed.


"I know you must have seen my baby as she slammed into the windshield," Anita King said. "I screamed for you to 'Stop, stop, you were running over babies,' but you didn't. When you ran the front of your car into my back, with my baby in my arms while you laughed, I knew you were trying to kill us. Well it's our turn to laugh as the leukemia rips through your body. I hope you know how much pleasure I take in your pain."