Deal with serial killer could take him off death row

Published: Mar. 1, 2010 at 10:49 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2010 at 12:44 PM EDT
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Robin Barnes (Source: Kaye Barnes)
Robin Barnes (Source: Kaye Barnes)
Kaye Barnes
Kaye Barnes

By Janelle MacDonald - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A man who has been on Kentucky's death row for 25 years may not be for much longer. 55-year-old Beoria Simmons is scheduled to be in court on March 2. According to the family of his victim, Simmons is set to take a plea deal that no one convicted of three murders should be allowed to make.

Simmons' actions changed the life of Kaye Barnes life for good and ended the life of her cousins, Robin Barnes.

"She was raped, sodomized, and shot in the chest and once under the chin and out the temple," said Barnes. "Her left wrist was broke, I guess where she was trying to get out of the car and get away from him. It took three days to find her."

It took police two more years to find her killer.

Robin Barnes was Simmons first victim, but not his last. Between Robin's death on May 18, 1981 and his arrest June 11, 1983, Simmons also abducted, raped and killed Shannon House on March 25, 1982, and Nancy Bettman on March 11, 1983. Both of their bodies were dumped in Iroquois Park.

A fourth victim was abducted near Churchill Downs. She was also taken to Iroquois Park, where Simmons told her she was going to be raped. She stabbed him and got away. She helped police catch Simmons.

Simmons was sentenced to death in 1985 and has been appealing his case basically since then. His latest appeal, Barnes said, has resulted in a deal that will take him off death row and keep him in prison for life but only if he agrees to drop all appeals.

"It's not good enough for me," said Barnes.

Barnes said her family was told by prosecutors that the plea deal was for the best because if Simmons' appeal resulted in a new trial, there could be problems making a 29-year-old case.

"Original detectives, original witnesses and if they didn't have all these original people, half of them are dead now, that he could walk," said Barnes.

While she understands the reasoning, Barnes said it is unfair. She has waited for justice in her cousin's death and life in prison isn't what she waited for.

"I want to be there when he dies," said Barnes. "I don't want him to die in prison, I want him to die of lethal injection, what he was convicted for."

The Commonwealth's Attorney's office could not talk to us about this story because of Simmons' pending court hearing. He is scheduled to be in court at 2 p.m., where Barnes said he will make his plea deal.

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