BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - After deliberating Thursday afternoon, a jury found Michael Jerome Barber guilty of Criminally Negligent Homicide, a misdemeanor, for the 2018 shooting death of Huffman High School senior Courtlin Arrington.
Barber’s sentencing is set for August 8 and he could face up to a year in jail.
The verdict is not sitting well with the Arrington family. Courtlin’s mother broke down in tears leaving the courtroom. “I just want justice for my baby! She isn’t coming back,” Tynesia Tatum said.
“Twelve months is nothing. He’s been out for over a year. And excuse my expression..hell no! I pray that Lord have mercy on his soul. But that ain’t going to bring my granddaughter back,” said Cheryl Arrington, Courtlin’s grandmother.
Barber’s attorney, Emory Anthony said, “There is no way you can say anyone won anything in this case. This is a sad situation for both sides. You have a young woman that has lost her life. You have a young man blessed to have a conviction for criminally negligent homicide.”
Barber was originally charged with manslaughter.
On Tuesday, several witnesses took the stand. A school resource officer testified that after Courtlin Arrington was shot and killed, he stood near the gun that was used. The SRO testified he made sure no one touched it until investigators got there.
The jury also viewed surveillance video from inside the school.
On the stand, the medical examiner explained the path of the bullet. It entered the right side of Arrington’s chest, hit her right lung, anterior ventricle artery, spinal column, and ultimately exited through the left side of her back. The medical examiner described the bullet’s path as slightly downward and could not confirm exactly how far away the bullet was shot from.
After court wrapped up on Wednesday, the judge gave the jury three choices; Reckless Manslaughter, the most serious charge that could have resulted in up to 20 years in prison, Criminal negligent homicide a misdemeanor, or not guilty.
The jury twice asked Judge Clyde Jones to explain the difference. It came down to whether Barber realized he would put someone’s life at stake by pulling the gun out or not. The jury ultimately decided it was an accident and Barber did not realize the danger.
“This is not justice,” Courtlin’s grandmother, Cheryl Arrington said. “I don’t think the jury knew what they were doing. They didn’t understand the definition of the two charges.”
The prosecution asked that Barber be taken into custody and he was taken to the Jefferson County Jail.
Arrington was a successful student and was planning to become a nurse.