Court postpones Johnstown funeral home director appearance and possible plea deal

JOHNSTOWN — Not a day goes by when Lori Trigg of Fonda doesn’t think about her husband Shawn, who died two years ago.

“Constant, constant. Yeah, constant,” she said. “I have two adult children that are just crushed, broken.”

She holds a small bag of her beloved husband’s ashes, just as she did when she went to court in March to try to get answers from former funeral home director Brian Barnett.

It’s a case that has affected many families.

“I want the families to know that our hearts go out to them. We would not wish this on anyone and it’s devastating and I cannot imagine the pain that they have gone through,” said Fulton County District Attorney Amanda Nellis.

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Police say they found decomposing bodies and cremated remains, some unlabeled, at the Ehle and Barnett Funeral Home in Johnstown in February.

Johnstown Police Chief David Gilbo said he is not done with the full investigation, that they’re still working through more cases, and that he thinks all the families involved should be acknowledged.

Barnett was scheduled for a possible plea deal in court Tuesday for charges including grand larceny, the most serious charge, and concealment of a human corpse, a lesser felony.

“It’s unfortunate that that type of crime is not a higher level of felony,” said Nellis. “It’s only an E felony, which is the lowest that we have.”

Under the plea, Barnett would have been facing two and a third to seven years in prison.

But after a conference Monday afternoon, the judge pushed out Barnett’s appearance at least two months, until the investigation is complete.

Trigg is hoping for some closure.

“He has to come to terms with what he did and face it and take the punishment,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot lighter than what he should have, I’m sure, so hopefully he realizes that and gets the help that he needs.”