Man Accused of Hiring Hitman Appears in Court

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A Salyersville man accused of hiring an undercover ATF agent to kill a West Virginia man appeared in Federal Court today.

In the early '80's, Robert Barnett was accused of sending a London resident a mailbomb.

"It didn't happen. A jury tried the case. He was acquitted", says Cullen Gault, Barnett's lawyer.

Therefore there's no criminal charges on his record. Now, he's facing some serious accusations. He was arrested last week, his Salyersville home and business investigated by authorities after an undercover ATF agent said Barnett hired him to kill someone.

Robert Barnett appeared in Federal Court where his lawyer asked the judge he be released from jail for now. He said Barnett isn't a flight risk and is a good citizen of Salyersville, but after testimony from a special ATF agent, the judge said no.

That agent, posing as a hitman from Reno, Nevada set up and recorded a meeting with Barnett at a Mt. Sterling hotel, who was allegedly looking to have someone killed. He says Barnett's request was the eyes, thumbs, and testicles from a Huntington, West Virgina man who owed him $7,000 dollars.

The ATF agent says Barnett also gave him a machine gun and pistol and planned to pay him $9,000 total to kill the West Virginia man.

That agent says Barnett also wanted him to kill a Columbia, Maryland doctor who formerly had a Paintsville practice, as well as having him handcuff and duct tape several Saylersville residents. From there, the agent said Barnett told him "he'd do the rest".

Barnett's wife took the stand presenting another side to him, as a loving husband and caring father. She and other family member quickly left the courtroom. His lawyer says Barnett's side has yet to be told.

"This is a loving father. This is a guy who is an upstanding member of the community. He's got a lot of support and they're ready to fight. So am I", says Cullen Gault, Barnett's attorney.

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