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Ex-Springboro officer takes plea deal in wife's murder

Ex-officer pleads guilty in murder-for-hire
Posted at 3:25 PM, Sep 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 01:23:58-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- Former Springboro police Lt. Thomas "Jim" Barton won't go back to prison for hiring the men who killed his wife 21 years ago.

Barton entered an "Alford plea" -- a plea that allows him to maintain innocence while recognizing that there is enough evidence to convict him -- to aggravated burglary and involuntary manslaughter as part of an agreement with prosecutors. Barton was sentenced to 11 years, but he gets to serve the remainder of his sentence -- 60 days -- on probation.

Barton, 61, was convicted in 2005 on charges that he hired the people who raped and murdered his wife, Vickie Barton, in 1995. Prosecutors said Barton hired men to stage a burglary to scare his wife into moving from their rural home to improve his chances of becoming police chief.

He served 11 years in prison. The conviction was overturned in federal court last year.

Barton has been living at his home in Springboro after posting $350,000 bond in April, awaiting a new trial in the death of his wife. It would have started Monday if he hadn't taken the deal.

Last week, Barton and his wife Elaine waited outside the courtroom, but no hearing was held.

Barton's attorney said he did not consult Vickie Barton's family about the plea deal.

“My understanding all along was that Vickie Barton’s family was more in the camp of Jim Barton than they were the State of Ohio in this case," he said.

The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO.