Plenty of people who achieve Schmuck of the Week status are rewarded with jail time for their efforts. But we're pretty sure the stretch Ralph Barnhardt received for his qualifying actions -- a 240 year sentence -- sets a new record.
Here's what he did to earn it.
According to the First Judicial District DA's office, "What began as a domestic violence assault of Mr. Barnhardt's estranged wife, Dawn, became a standoff with police officers that lasted over six hours."
Testimony at Barnhardt's trial, as reported by 7News, revealed that Barnhardt "lured" his wife and their ten-year-old son to the Morrison home they'd previously shared.
The wife tried to leave as soon as she discovered Barnhardt was on the premises -- something that he apparently didn't like very much, since he's said to have followed her out of the house and repeatedly punched her in the face and upper body.
The couple's son reportedly tried screaming in Barnhardt's ear to get him to stop the attack and landscapers in the area ran to help. Law enforcement turned up shortly thereafter, but Barnhardt, armed with at least two semi-automatic weapons, was back in the house by that time and refused to come out.
Before long, a SWAT team was called -- and Barnhardt showed his antipathy toward its members by declining to cooperate with negotiators and firing what Assistant DA Michael Dougherty estimates as eleven shots in their direction. One bullet hit an armored vehicle, 7News points out, while two more struck houses in the vicinity.
Eventually, the cops' patience was exhausted and they opened fire on Barnhardt, who was wounded in the exchange, as witnessed by the bandage over his eye in his memorable booking photo.
In April, a Jefferson County jury weighed the evidence against Barnhardt and found it to be mighty heavy. They found him guilty of 39 counts broken down like so:
• 19 counts of Attempted Murder • 14 counts of 1st Degree Assault (intent to cause SBI to a peace officer) • Attempted 1st Degree Assault • Menacing with a Deadly Weapon • Child Abuse • Harassment • Failure to leave premises
Barnhardt has now received his 240-year sentence, setting a new standard for schmucks everywhere. Here's a look at his full-sized booking photo.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.