Murder Charges Dropped Against Girlfriend In Justin Barnard Case

Friday, October 3rd 2014, 6:35 pm
By: News 9

A surprising twist in the murder case against an ex-girlfriend and six masked men.

Cleveland County prosecutors dropped a first-degree murder charge against Dianna St. Clair, the woman authorities believe instigated the murder of Justin Barnard.

St. Clair allegedly convinced a group of her relatives to rough up her ex, Justin Barnard.

Barnard died from a gunshot wound he sustained during a home invasion at his grandmother Dovie Barnard's house in March 2013.

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"It just all happened so quick," said Dovie. "They just drove up and came running into the house. I didn't think to load my gun. It's loaded now."

She witnessed the murder and even fell victim to the violence. The intruders punched her, knocked her to the ground and stole her wallet.

Dovie believes the men shot and killed her grandson and beat her up out of revenge for St. Clair.

"It is kind of upsetting to know she has gone free, when she is the one that started the whole mess," Dovie said.

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Cleveland County prosecutors dismissed the murder charge against St. Clair, Thursday, due to insufficient evidence.

One of the state's key witnesses, Jason Harris, refused to testify against St.Clair in her preliminary hearing, despite the plea agreement he previously made with prosecutors.

Harris pled guilty to murder, burglary and robbery and is serving 25 years of a life sentence in exchange for his testimony.

No word on what will happen with Harris' case given the change.

Meanwhile, St. Clair has been released from the Cleveland County Detention Center.

"She was thrilled," St. Clair's attorney Dan Murdock said. 

Murdock said the couple had a contentious relationship, but St. Clair has always maintained her innocence. 

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"She was not involved in it and did not have anything to do with it," Murdock added.

Dovie is still hopeful investigators will find a way to bring charges against St. Clair again in the future.

Until then, she is keeping an eye out.

"I'm not frightened anymore," said Dovie. "I got my gun loaded, and it will go eight times (laughs). So if anybody tries anything else, I will be waiting on them."

The other five co-defendants, Rusty Wooten, Monte Jones, Gary Harris, Isaiah Walker and Michael Tubby, are still awaiting their day in court. All are charged with first-degree murder.