More than two decades after a woman was murdered in West Palm Beach, Florida, her killer has been convicted thanks in part to a job application.
Todd Barket, 51, was sentenced Friday to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 68-year-old Sondra Better in August 1998. The case had remained unsolved for 20 years, until Barket submitted his information to a new employer for a background check last December, leading to a match in a police database that connected the dots and made his arrest possible.
Barket was charged in May after his fingerprints and DNA were found to have matched key evidence left at the scene of the crime, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Better had been killed during a robbery of Lu Shay's Consignment Shop in Delray Beach. She had been bludgeoned and stabbed repeatedly, leaving a trail of blood, according to The Washington Post. Detectives during the trial said that despite interviews with 37 suspects, the case had sadly turned cold for many years, until Barket was finally found.
Assistant State Attorney Alexcia Cox described the situation at the sentencing.
“It was quick, it was brutal. ... He made the conscious decision that he would end her life," Cox said, according to the Sun Sentinel. "It took 21 years for this crime to catch up to him. But it did.”
During the trial Barket maintained that the fingerprints found at the scene were from a previous visit to the store that took place weeks before the killing. Barket said when he visited the store again on the day of the murder, he had been bleeding due to an injury incurred from his job as a day laborer and that he had decided to pilfer an unattended register while shopping for his wife. He claims he didn't notice the body on the ground.
“I’ve been thinking of this since I was arrested,” Barket said, according to the Sun Sentinel. “I’m not proud of what I did."
Assistant Public Defender Courtney Wilson claimed her client had been framed.
“The state needs you to believe with no actual proof, that a man who’s never been arrested before, married for 26 years, one day, for no reason, decides to come into a store, brutally beat a perfect stranger, for no motive other than to take a hundred dollars out of a cash register and not take anything else,” Wilson said, according to the Sun Sentinel. “And then in the past 21 years, someone who is capable of doing this has never had an encounter with law enforcement? That doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t add up."
Cox was not buying it and told the jury to reject his testimony.
"Please believe me that there is no way that this defendant and the story that he told to you all today makes any sense or is truthful,” she had told the jury before they found him guilty for the killing.
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