- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 21, 2001

CINCINNATI — A judge strongly criticized a woman who complained that police "were rude" to her when she was caught inside a looted store during April's riots after the shooting death of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer.
"You say, 'I've broken into a store. I've been looting. I've been taking things that don't belong to me. I walk outside and police are wearing riot gear. They are carrying guns,' and then you say, 'They're being rude to me'? Oh, come on," Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Melba Marsh told Shekeyma Barnett.
Previously, Barnett pleaded guilty to breaking and entering during the April riot. She was before Judge Marsh Thursday to be sentenced, but wound up getting chewed out, too.
Barnett, 23, first came to the public's attention when a radio reporter broadcasting live during the April riots shouted at her — referring to her as the "pregnant lady" because she was nine months pregnant — not to enter the Vine Street Big Dollar store that was being looted.
"But she didn't listen," Judge Marsh said.
After her tongue-lashing from the judge, Barnett tried to reply.
"Oh, be quiet," Judge Marsh told her.
Then, her attorney, Victor Sims, tried to speak and the judge quieted him, too.
The judge then chewed out Barnett — an unemployed mother of three at the time of her riot arrest — for committing a crime that caused her to give birth while jailed. The judge also praised Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. for having the thoughtfulness to allow Barnett to be taken to the hospital to give birth.
"No child should have a birth certificate that reads 'Born in the jail,'" Judge Marsh said.
"I don't know what you were thinking."
The judge also noted a 1997 child-endangering conviction for Barnett, who was arrested while shopping and then asked the arresting officers: "Should I check on my kids? They're home alone."
Because Barnett has already served 30 days in jail — while giving birth — the judge put her on a two-year probation.
The store owner reported a loss of $77,221.07 in the riots, but because others also were arrested for being in the same store, Judge Marsh ordered Barnett to repay $1,000.
Because she has no job, instead of the $1,000, she will have to perform 100 hours of community service.
Distributed by Scripps Howard


Looter's complaint draws judge's ire

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