JEFFERSON COUINTY, Colo. - A man convicted of shooting at Jefferson County SWAT officers during a 2013 domestic violence incident was sentenced Tuesday to 240 years in prison.
On April 23, a jury found Ralph Kirksten Barnhardt, 45, guilty of all 39 counts filed against him, including 19 counts of attempted murder.
Barnhardt was arrested after a standoff with sheriff's deputies and SWAT officers at 12574 W. Grand Avenue, Morrison, in July, 2013.
"We are very pleased with this verdict. The jury took their responsibility very seriously and recognized the courage and skill of these law enforcement officers who risked their lives to protect everyone on West Grand Avenue that day," said District Attorney Pete Weir after the verdict, "It is a testament to the professionalism of the SWAT team that none of the officers or neighbors were injured."
During a week-long trial, testimony revealed that Barnhardt lured his estranged wife and 10-year-old son to the house she formerly shared with the suspect. The two had been separated for two months. The wife did not expect the suspect to be there and left when she found out he was in the house.
Testimony showed Barnhardt followed the two out of the house and punched his wife in the face, head and shoulders repeatedly.
Landscapers who were working nearby told the jury that they heard "bloodcurdling screams" and ran to assist the woman being assaulted. The child told investigators that he yelled as loud as he could into his father's ear, in an attempt to deafen him and make him stop beating his mother.
When deputies arrived, they went to the front door and could see Barnhardt holding a run in each hand. He was asked to put down the guns but refused.
The SWAT team's armored vehicle was put into place in front of the house, facing the front door as negotiators continued to try to convince Barnhardt to put down the guns and come out of the house. He repeatedly pointed the guns at the members of the SWAT team, as witnessed by a neighbor and officers.
Barnhardt fired 11 shots directly at officers. One round struck the middle of the windshield of the armored vehicle. Two of Barnhardt's bullets struck houses across the street.
Law enforcement officers returned fire, striking Barnhardt. He was transported to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries.