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Altoona man sentenced in 2019 stabbing case

HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man will spend 10 to 20 years in prison for a 2019 stabbing in downtown Altoona that left his victim with a life-threatening neck wound initially treated by a passing fire department crew.

Shawn Patrick Barnes, 45, rendered guilty pleas Wednesday in Blair County Court to attempted homicide, escape and possessing an instrument of crime.

Judge Timothy M. Sullivan imposed the negotiated sentence in exchange for the guilty pleas as presented by Assistant Public Defender John Siford and Assistant District Attorney Katelyn Hoover.

Charges of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person were dropped as part of the negotiated plea.

In court Wednesday, Barnes said little when answering Sullivan’s questions about his desire to plead guilty and give up his rights to a jury trial.

In court before the judge, he offered no explanation for his behavior that led to the Aug. 20, 2019 stabbing.

“He did tell me that he was thankful that it wasn’t worse,” Siford said after the sentencing hearing concluded.

Altoona police, when charging Barnes, suggested that the stabbing was a random incident, based on their investigation that included interviews with witnesses to the stabbing and those who said Barnes had been walking around the neighborhood, engaging residents in confrontations.

A woman who was walking with the victim on the 1500 block of 13th Avenue said Barnes had been walking toward them when he swung his right hand toward her companion while carrying a bag in his left hand. The woman told police she initially thought her companion had been punched, then realized he had been stabbed and was bleeding from the neck.

After the incident, Altoona police Sgt. Matthew Plummer credited a city fire department crew for providing medical attention, which likely saved the victim’s life.

The fire department crew just happened to be returning to their nearby station when they noticed the couple in need of help and an EMT on board responded.

Using information from witnesses, police were able to identify Barnes’ nearby residence at 1813 14th Ave., a couple of blocks from the stabbing site. Upon taking Barnes into custody, police said he tried to slip out of his handcuffs and almost pulled his left hand free. That resulted in the escape charge.

Inside his residence, police found a silver-colored folding knife, with blood on both sides of its 4-inch blade.

When imposing sentence, Sullivan directed Barnes to have no contact with the victim, who did not come to court for the sentence nor did he make a restitution request. Recent attempts to reach the victim were unsuccessful, Hoover reported to Sullivan.

Barnes, an inmate at the county prison for almost two years since his arrest, is to be credited for time served toward his 10- to 20-year sentence.

Sullivan’s order also directs Barnes to participate in an updated mental health evaluation and follow through with recommended treatment.

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