The wife of a Richland Hills man accused of carving a pentagram on their young son’s back in 2012 testified Tuesday that she couldn’t stop her husband.
Fighting back tears, Lindy Bartel told a Tarrant County jury that she was asleep on a couch when she was awakened by screams from her then 6-year-old son.
“I thought I was dreaming,” Lindy Bartel said. “I thought it was a slaughtering.”
Lindy Bartel found her husband, Brent Bartel, holding their son down in the hallway of their Richland Hills home as he used a box cutter to carve the pentagram.
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“I asked him ‘Why?,’ ” Lindy Bartel testified. “He said, ‘According to the Bible, women are sinful and only the blood of innocent will do.’ ”
Lindy Bartel managed to get hold of the box cutter and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911. Brent Bartel also called 911.
The boy, now 9, was treated for his injuries and released from Cook Children’s Medical Center.
Her testimony came on the first day of Brent Bartel’s trial on a charge of aggravated assault in state District Judge Mollee Westfall’s court.
If convicted, Bartel, 42, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the attack on his son on Dec. 12, 2012.
Defense attorney Joetta Keene of Arlington told the jury of seven men and five women that Brent Bartel is schizophrenic and has a long history of mental illness.
“Brent Bartel loves his family,” Keene said in her opening statement. “He had schizophrenia when he was young and it continued to grow. He believed spirits came to kill his family on that night, so he took the blood of his son, smeared it on the door frame to protect his family from the spirits. It’s crazy stuff.”
But prosecutor Martin Purselley told the jury that Brent Bartel is guilty of aggravated assault.
“He knew the difference between right and wrong,” said Purselley, who is prosecuting the case with Dale Smith. “He called police.”
Lindy Bartel said she and her husband met online, and they were married for more than eight years. She told jurors he began to read the Bible more when they moved to Texas from Oregon several years ago.
On the day before the attack on her son, Lindy Bartel said, she found her husband watching The Passion of the Christ over and over again.
“I asked him, ‘How many times have you watched that?,’ ” Lindy Bartel said. “He said 10 times.”
Keene told jurors that hours before the attack, Brent Bartel took his son to be blessed at a church and he bought a clean box cutter to avoid infections and a cream for the wounds.
Bartel has been found incompetent to stand trial several times and was sent to numerous state hospitals in Texas, but in 2015 he was ruled competent.
Jurors heard the 911 call made by Brent Bartel. In a calm voice, Brent Bartel told the Richland Hills dispatcher, “I inscribed a pentagram on my son.”
Bartel continued in a low-key voice: “I shed some innocent blood.”
Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday.