2009 Easton Killing Was 'Payback,' Grand Jury Says

Franklin Barndt, 36, faces conspiracy to commit homicide charge in connection with shooting at Easton Cafe.

Franklin Johnson Barndt (photo courtesy of Northampton County Department of Corrections)
Franklin Johnson Barndt (photo courtesy of Northampton County Department of Corrections)
This story was first published Dec. 13. 

It was March 30, 2009, and Miguel Aponte was a free man. 

He'd just spent time in prison for his role in a 2006 shooting in Wilson. Now he was out of jail, at the Easton Cafe on Northampton Street, on what would be his final night out.

Aponte was shot and killed at the bar that night and now, nearly five years later, a Northampton County grand jury is recommending homicide charges against a man they say played a role in his death.

Franklin Johnson Barndt alerted another man to Aponte's presence at the bar, helped dispose of the gun after the killing, and later bragged about the part he played, according to testimony in the grand jury's report.

The report—released Friday—recommends that Barndt, 36, of Easton be charged with conspiracy to commit homicide.

It also identifies the shooter: Jacob Holmes, Jr., who was wounded in the 2006 shooting that sent Aponte to prison.

That shooting—outside the former C.R. Fanny's strip club on Butler Street—also led to the death of Jason Oliver. John "Rue" Logan was convicted in the shooting and sentenced to 20-40 years in prison. Aponte, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges, was out within two years.

Investigators have said the two shootings were related. Holmes—who has not been charged—could not be reached for comment Friday. His father, Jacob Sr., told the Morning Call his son had nothing to do with the killing.

According to the grand jury presentment:

Barndt testified last year that on the night of Aponte's death, he'd been at the Easton Cafe when he spotted Aponte. He called Holmes, who told Barndt that he was going to "kill that mother------."

Holmes asked Barndt to act as a lookout. He arrived at the bar, went to the back door, knocked and opened fire.

The two men ran, Barndt testified. Holmes then picked him up and gave him the gun he had used.

Another witness, a woman who was in a relationship with Barndt at the time of the shooting, testified that she had picked up Barndt and a man he identified as "Jake" the night of Aponte's killing.

She told the grand jury that Barndt seemed excited. He and Jake talked back and forth about how they were family, that they could trust each other, and that "payback was a bitch."

In the days that followed, Barndt had her drive to Wy-Hit-Tuk Park just south of Easton, where he threw the gun into the Delaware River. 

When stories about the Aponte killing began to appear, Barndt allegedly beat his chest and said, "I did that, I did that."

Barndt had not been arraigned as of late Friday afternoon.

He is already behind bars at the state prison in Huntingdon. Court documents show numerous convictions on his record, including guilty pleas for theft, terroristic threats, assault and escape. 

In the case of the escape, Barndt had been locked up at Rockview State Prison in Centre County on drug charges, but apparently walked away from the prison's forestry camp and headed home to Northampton County. He was caught 12 hours later in Wilson.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »