Northeast Tarrant

Richland Hills man who cut pentagram into son’s back gets 11 years

Brent Bartel, 42, of Richland Hills
Brent Bartel, 42, of Richland Hills Courtesy

A father convicted of carving a pentagram into his 6-year-old son’s back was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison, Tarrant County officials said.

Prosecutors did not seek the maximum sentence of life in prison for Brent Bartel, 42, of Richland Hills, who has been diagnosed as schizophrenic since his arrest.

Bartel must serve half the sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Prosecutor Martin Purselley asked jurors to sentence Bartel to a prison stay that made them “feel safe.”

“Safe enough where he cannot hurt anyone else,” Purselley said. “Safe enough where he cannot do this again.”

Bartel was convicted Thursday of aggravated assault of a family member with a deadly weapon. He was also convicted of the offense of injury to a child, for which jurors assessed 10 years in prison.

State District Judge Mollee Westfall ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

During the punishment phase of the trial, the jury heard additional testimony, including from Bartel’s wife, who said she forgave her husband but did not want to see him again.

Also, defense attorney Joetta Keene presented mitigating factors, such as a troubled upbringing, that she said merited a lower sentence.

Bartel cut his son’s back with a box cutter at midnight Dec. 12, 2012 — or 12-12-2012. Bartel believed that the world would end at midnight that day and everyone would die, Keene said Thursday.

Several mental health professionals agreed that Bartel is mentally ill, and Keene presented evidence that he has schizophrenia, a condition that prevents a person from telling reality from delusions.

Bartel believed his wife was cheating on him, according to authorities. Bartel told authorities that a blood sacrifice was required before his family could be cleansed prior to the world’s destruction.

In her closing statement to the jury, Keene held up a picture of the Bartel family and began to weep.

“This picture just kills me,” Keene said. “What a beautiful family. But then what? He loses his wife, he loses his family.”

Keene then talked about how Bartel’s wife and son, now 9, have adjusted to the trauma.

Bartel was not just a madman with a box cutter, and his mental and physical health have not been improved by jail, Keene said.

“That sweetheart has forgiven him,” Keene said. “That baby has forgiven him. Crime deserves punishment absolutely but please weigh what type of person he is.”

Prosecutor Dale Smith said: “We are very happy that the jury held him criminally accountable. We respect the jury’s decision and thank them for the hard work they did.”

This includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3