UPDATE: Guilty plea expected in murder case

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By Laura Beranek, Kyle Collier | 


Court officials tell us they expect Gary Ward to plead guilty in a Knott County murder case on Tuesday.

Investigators say Ward murdered Christina Hal Barnett and dumped her body in Knott County in September of 2013.

Ward previously pleaded not guilty to several charges including murder. It is not clear on what charges he plans to plead guilty.


A Johnson County man appeared in Knott County Circuit Court Thursday, accused of murdering Christina Hale Barnett in September.

Ward pleaded not guilty to murder, tampering with physical evidence, and abuse of a corpse charges.

His defense attorney's used three witnesses to attempt to reduce Ward's bond. Right now, his bond is set at $500,000.

The witnesses said they have all known Ward for most of their lives, and testified he would not be a flight risk.

"It just goes to show what type of person he is his lifelong work," said one of Ward's attorneys, Kent Varney, "his zero criminal history, and how people in this community feel who knew him. "

After the arraignment, the Hale family went to where Chrissy's body was found, and said what they heard in court was shocking.

"That just took me by surprise that he had three people get up and testify what a good man he was," said her mother, Donna Hale, "when I know in my heart what he did to my daughter. "

"We ask people to hold off this is still an ongoing investigation," said Varney.

"Wait and see the evidence before you say what a good man he is," said Hale, "because he's not...he's a killer."

The bond reduction is still under review by a judge. Ward's next trial is scheduled for March 24th.

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