Northeast Tarrant

Richland Hills man guilty of carving pentagram on son’s back

Blood was smeared on the door frame of the Bartel residence in Richland Hills on Dec. 12, 2012.
Blood was smeared on the door frame of the Bartel residence in Richland Hills on Dec. 12, 2012. Star-Telegram

The wife of a man that a jury found guilty of cutting a pentagram into the back of her son testified Thursday that she has forgiven her husband.

But Lindy Bartel testified later that day that she never wanted to see her husband again.

Earlier Thursday a Tarrant County jury deliberated about five hours before convicting Brent Bartel 42, of Richland Hills, of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a family member and injury to a child.

Later Thursday the jury was asked to assess a sentence for a man prosecutors said sliced into his son’s back with a box cutter at midnight on Dec. 12, 2012.

The maximum sentence on the assault charge is life or 99 years in prison and the injury to a child charge carries a 10-year maximum. Any sentences assessed by the jury are set to run concurrently, state District Judge Mollee Westfall said.

The punishment phase of the trial began moments after the guilty verdict was read. Bartel’s defense attorney, Joetta Keene, told jurors that she trusted them to do the right thing and that they were good people.

Keene said Bartel needed to be in a hospital where he could recover from his mental illnesses. Bartel had been in jail in 2007 and returned to jail in 2012 and during each incarceration his mental health deteriorated, Keene said.

“Cages don’t do for people with mental health problems,” Keene said. “Judge him based on his mental state.”

Tarrant County Prosecutor Dale Smith presented evidence that Bartel got into trouble in Pennsylvania in 2007. Smith read from Pennsylvania court documents that stated that Bartel attacked a sheriff’s deputy in court while appealing a traffic ticket he received when working as a truck driver.

Bartel pleaded guilty to the Pennsyvania charges and stayed in jail for eight months before he was allowed to come back to Texas, Lindy Bartel testified. Smith told jurors that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

“You have to ask yourself if you let him out is he ever going to do this again,” Smith said.

The Bartels’ son, who is now 9, will not take off his shirt for anyone except his mother, Smith said. The jury’s sentence should say something about how the community feels about the horrible things Bartel has done, Smith said.

How long does the jury want to protect this son from his father, Smith asked.

“He [Bartel’s son] didn’t ask for any of this,” Smith said.

The attorneys who tried the case and experts who testified said Bartel suffers from a serious mental defect.

“Eleven or 12 psychiatrists agree he is a schizophrenic,” Keene said before the verdict was read.

“What it will come down to is whether the jury believes he knew what he was doing was wrong.”

But during the guilt/innocence phase of the trial, Smith said Bartel knew that cutting his son’s back was wrong.

“He didn’t tell the pastor what he was going to do and he didn’t wake up his wife before he did it,” Smith said. “He told you in his statement that he knew what he did was wrong.”

Bartel believed that the world would end at midnight on 12-12-2012 and everyone would die, Keene said.

Bartel was an undiagnosed schizophrenic with a beautiful wife and son, and a decent job, attorneys said. Somehow, in his diseased mind, he believed his wife was cheating on him and that his family needed cleansing before the world was destroyed. A blood sacrifice was required.

“It’s a sad case,” Keene said. “The only question is whether he will go to prison or whether he will go to a mental hospital.”

Bartel has long denied a history of mental health treatment, but records show he had counseling as a youngster. He didn’t tell doctors he had suicidal thoughts, but he tried twice to kill himself before the attack on his son.

Police were summoned to the Bartel home about 12:10 a.m. on Dec. 12, after Bartel called 911. A neighbor also called police after the child’s mother fled to the neighbor’s home.

During the 911 call, Bartel told the Richland Hills dispatcher, “I inscribed a pentagram on my son.”

Authorities said Bartel used a box cutter to carve the pentagram, a five-pointed star.

Bartel also told the dispatcher, “I shed some innocent blood.”

Asked why he did it, Bartel replied, “It’s a holy day.”

Blood was found smeared on the frame of the front door of the home.

The jurors were sent home about 5:30 p.m. Thursday and are expected to resume deliberations Friday morning.

“I don’t hate him for what he did,” Lindy Bartel testified. But later she told the jury, “I don’t want to be married to him. I don’t want to be around him, ever.”

This story contains information from Star-Telegram archives

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3