BENTON — Despite an apology to the victim and a tearful plea from his mother for his release, former South Marshall Middle School principal Kent Barlow was sentenced to 10 years last week for the March 10 assault of his former girlfriend.
The 10-year sentence was handed down Friday by Circuit Court Judge Dennis Foust after an agreement reached through mediation in which Barlow pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment, fourth degree assault and unlawful imprisonment.
Prior to being sentenced Barlow told the court he wanted to apologize to the victim, her family, his family and the community, saying he had let them down.
“I searched for the words to describe the remorse I feel for her and her family,” he said. She’s been my best friend and I have a great deal of love and respect for her.”
Mark Bryant, Barlow’s attorney, asked for immediate shock probation during Friday’s sentencing.
Foust said he does not believe Barlow will spend 10 years in jail, but due to the serious nature of the crime, he could not grant probation.
Barlow will be eligible for parole after two years, but has already served nearly six months in jail, making him eligible for release in just over 18 months. Bryant said he plans to ask for shock probation again in 90 days, however.
Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship commented on the request for probation by saying a “monster” came out of him on the night of the attack and objected.
Regarding the plea agreement and whether or not the punishment fit the crime, Blankenship said, “If both parties walk away feeling unhappy with the deal that was reached, it was probably a success.” I would have liked to have seen him get more jail time and he thought he should be immediately released.”
“I know the sentence seems light for what he did,” said Blankenship. “But with the victim so adamant that she did not want to pursue rape charges, we probably couldn’t have gotten any more time if we had taken it to trial.”
“It’s funny, but most of us are far more outraged by what Mr. Barlow did than the person who went through it,” said Blankenship, referring to the victim who has on several occasions asked for leniency for her attacker.
“One thing we need to consider here is that Mr. Barlow is not only doing time, but he has also lost his career. That has to be considered as a part of his punishment,” he said. “He is done in the world of education. When you factor all that in, I guess I’m okay with how it turned out,” said Blankenship.
Barlow remains in the Marshall County Detention Center and any plans for transfer to a prison setting remain unclear.