Black gets 70 years in cold case

Published 1:52 am Saturday, October 17, 2015

Presiding Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan on Friday sentenced the man convicted of a 20-plus-year-old cold case murder to 840 months, or 70 years in prison.

Eugene Wallace Black, 56, was charged in 2013 along with three other people – Sheila Ellison Brooks, Sheila Walker Williams and Sandra Ellison Lynn – for the 1994 murder of convenience store owner James “Nibby” Barton.

Brooks died in jail shortly after being arrested for the crime.

Lynn and Williams both took plea deals.

Friday, McKathan ordered Black to pay court costs, a $100 assessment to the Alabama Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, and restitution in the amount of $3,543 for the victim’s funeral expenses.

“With this sentence, a dark chapter has been closed,” District Attorney Walt Merrell said. “For 20 years, Nibby Barton’s family did not know who killed him, and at times, it must have seemed they would never know. While the resolution of the case doesn’t lessen the Bartons’ grief, I hope they now feel justice has been served. I commend the men of the Cold Case Task Force who worked hundreds upon hundreds of hours to find justice, and I appreciate Judge McKathan’s sentence.”