Barthel's threats against ex-wife leads to four-year prison sentence

SANDUSKY The man who threatened to kill his estranged wife with a shotgun will spend the next four y
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

The man who threatened to kill his estranged wife with a shotgun will spend the next four years in prison.

One day before his scheduled trial, William R. Barthel Jr., 56, pleaded guilty Monday to felonious assault with a firearm.

He faced nine years in prison.

Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone sentenced him to three years for felonious assault and one additional year for using a firearm. He faced three additional years for the firearm specification. Prosecutors dismissed charges of attempted murder and attempted kidnapping.

Barthel accepted a plea deal in March. At the time, it appeared he'd worked out a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail time. But the deal apparently fell apart, and Barthel requested a trial.

His ex-wife, Shirley, said she did not oppose probation for him. But Tone said he believed Barthel's actions deserved jail time.

"The reason I accepted the plea -- I would have been inclined to give him more time -- was because the family didn't want to go through a lengthy trial," Tone said. "You can't go to the home of your ex-wife and grab her by the hair and put a loaded shotgun to her head."

A grand jury indicted Barthel in connection with the July 30, 2008 incident in which he went to Shirley's home in Berlin Township armed with the gun. He waited in the shadows for her to come out. Andrew Barthel, the couple's son, called his mother to warn her.

"Run, run!" Andrew reportedly told his mother. "Dad's a hundred feet from the house. He's got a loaded shotgun, and he's going to try to kill you."

When Shirley fled the home, William pounced on her, grabbing her hair and putting the gun to her head. She broke free when a Chihuahua named Butch, who belonged to Shirley's friend, lunged at William. The dog distracted him just enough to allow Shirley to escape.

William Barthel apologized for his actions at his sentencing. He told Tone he's since gotten his life back on track.

"I just want to say I'm sorry for putting everyone through this," William Barthel said. "It was a bad year and a bad mistake. I'm really sorry if I hurt anybody."

Tone called it a "sad case all the way around." Barthel's friends and relatives wrote letters for him, and Tone said he'd never received so many letters in support of a defendant.

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said he was satisfied with Barthel's sentence.

"This is a difficult case that I think everyone has struggled with, " Baxter said. "Not going through all the procedural matters this case has seen, I believe we've come to a resolution that I believe is a fair resolution."