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Covington man pleads guilty in 2016 slaying

COVINGTON, Ga. – Nathaniel Barnes, charged with killing a 24-year-old Conyers man in July 2016, pleaded guilty to the murder in Newton County Superior Court late Wednesday morning.

Barnes, 26, has been held in the Newton County Jail since July 15 last year following his arrest by Newton County Sheriff’s Office investigators and members of the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Task Force for the July 4 killing of Julien Wyant.

According to previous reports, Wyant’s body was found face down around 8:00 p.m. that date in the parking lot at the Orchard Cove apartment complex. Newton County Assistant District Attorney Amber Bennett told the court Wednesday that Wyant had been shot three times, twice in the back and once in the head.

Barnes, who was on probation for a 2014 cocaine conviction at the time of the murder, admitted in court that he was responsible for Wyant’s death.

“Are you, in fact, guilty of the murder of Julien Wyant in Newton County?” Alcovy Judicial Circuit Judge W. Kendall Wynne asked.

“Yes sir,” Barnes responded.

In a victim impact statement, Wyant’s mother, Tanya, told the court that her son, an aspiring boxer, took care of his family.

“All of our lives have been damaged,” she said.

Referring to Barnes, she urged the court to, “Make an example of this young man.”

As part of the negotiated plea deal, Wynne sentenced Barnes to life in prison. Bennett said Barnes will be eligible for parole in 30 years.