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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2001

Alleged driver of stolen car is charged with 2 homicides

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ricardo Barney was a machine operator. His wife, Darlene, packaged vehicle replacement parts sent to dealerships.

Jacob Sisson is unemployed. Family members said yesterday he had a bad habit of stealing cars.

The West Toledo couple, in their 40s, and the man, 20, of 1262 Vance St., come from different worlds that will forever be connected as the result of a tragedy Sunday afternoon in the Old West End. The Barneys were killed when their car was hit by a stolen car allegedly driven by Mr. Sisson during a police pursuit. Police say a 14-year-old Ashland Avenue boy was a passenger in the stolen car. The pursuit lasted only 35 seconds before ending with the crash at Floyd Street and Collingwood Boulevard.

While family members grieved yesterday at the couple's residence, 1500 Brooke Park Dr., Mr. Sisson was being held in the Lucas County jail, charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count each of failure to obey a police order and receiving stolen property.

His bond was set at $120,000 bond during an arraignment in Toledo Municipal Court.

The 14-year-old passenger was charged with delinquency in connection with receiving stolen property.

He pleaded not guilty and was released and placed under house arrest during a detention hearing in Lucas County Juvenile Court.

Mr. Barney's mother, Henrietta Barney, of Detroit, declined comment to The Blade yesterday.

Neighbors and friends said the couple have four grown children and several grandchildren.

“They were real nice people,” said Dale Smith, who with his wife, Cindy, have known the Barneys since they moved to Toledo several years ago.

Mrs. Smith worked at a West Toledo hotel, where the Barneys were staying until they found a place to live after Mr. Barney was transferred to the GM Powertrain plant in Toledo in 1998.

Mrs. Smith told Mrs. Barney about her apartment building, where the Barneys then moved. The women later worked together at High Tech Packaging, Inc.

Neighbor Brian Jadlocki said the Barneys were “generous people and easy to get along with.”

The couples' employers agreed.

“We value each and every one of our employees and [Mr. Barney] will be greatly missed. His supervisor said he set a tremendous example for our employees,” Sharon Griffith, spokeswoman for Toledo's GM Powertrain plant, said.

Mr. Barney was hired at General Motors' Livonia, Mich., plant in 1972. He was transferred to the Toledo plant, where he worked second shift as a machine operator in the transmission case machining department, Ms. Griffith said.

Mrs. Barney was a production employee at High Tech Packaging, where she started working in 1999, said Tom Miller, human resources manager. She was employed through Advance Staffing.

“Darlene did a very good job for us. She was always pleasant. She would always say `Hi' to you. She always had a smile when she came to work everyday. She was exactly the employee you want,” Mr. Miller said.

The incident that led to the Barneys' deaths started when police officers spotted the stolen car near Franklin Avenue and Bancroft Street. Police caught up to it on Franklin as it turned onto Irving Street and followed it until it pulled into a driveway on Warren Street at Floyd. The officers pulled in behind the car and turned on their patrol car's overhead emergency lights. The stolen car then took off at a high rate of speed across the yard and onto westbound Floyd, which is a eastbound, one-way street.

The officers activated their car's siren and followed the stolen car, which sped down Floyd, running stop signs and striking a vehicle driven by Karen Lincoln as she was backing out of 342 Floyd. The stolen car ran a stop sign at Collingwood and hit the Barneys' car, which was traveling south on Collingwood. The impact pushed the Barneys' car against a brick embankment along Collingwood.

Police said Mr. Sisson was driving about 45 mph when the accident occurred. The speed limit is 25 mph. After the crash, Mr. Sisson and the boy ran. They were apprehended by the pursuing officers.

The Barneys died from severe neck injuries sustained in the crash, Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner, said.

After Mr. Sisson's arraignment, where he stood silent and held a cloth up to his left eye, Ms. Lincoln said she feels blessed to be alive.

Mr. Sisson's aunt, Patricia Layson, said she is sorry the accident occurred. Although family members said Mr. Sisson is a good person, they said he often sought trouble.

“We told him to stop stealing cars, but you couldn't tell him that,” said Artisha Layson, his first cousin.

The officers involved in the chase were off-duty yesterday. They declined comment, police Capt. Mike Murphy said.

Police Chief Mike Navarre said preliminary indications show the officers, Brian Bortel and Rodney Clark, followed standard police procedures in the pursuit.

While the public often opposes law enforcement engaging in high-speed pursuits, the chief said he would like to see technological developments that would aid officers in stopping vehicles involved in chases without causing undo harm. One idea, he said, would be a hand-held device officers would carry that would disable the engine of the vehicle police are pursuing.



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