Nineteen-year-old old Talen C. Barton was sentenced Tuesday to 71 years to life in prison for the Laytonville stabbing murders of Coleman Palmieri and his 17-year-old son Teo Palmieri, and for the attempted murders of Cindy Norvell, M. D., and her brother Theodore Norvell, Ph.D, of Newfoundland, Canada. Barton pled guilty to those crimes last month and to the false imprisonment of two teenaged Norvell/Palmieri family members who were at the house the night of the murders—July 19.
Manacled and dressed in a yellow-green county jail jumpsuit, Barton watched the proceedings impassively, occasional smiling.
When asked by Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman at the County Court House if he had anything to say before his sentencing, Barton said, "Not particularly."
"If anyone calls him a monster," Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster told the court. "They hit it right on the head."
Barton appeared to nod in agreement with Eyster's characterization.
Eyster told the court: "The moments in the notoriety spotlight that he seems to have fun with when he's here in court are coming to an end today. He is going to a warehouse where the forgotten go and he's doing that because of conscious decisions he's made."
The DA said that in addition to the "grievous harm" Barton has inflicted on the Norvell/Palmieri family, Barton intentionally damaged the community by his attack on Norvell, Laytonville's primary physician. This occurred, Eyster said, despite the fact that she "had taken him in as one of her own."
Eyster also blamed Barton, a former foster child, for damaging the foster care system by creating fears in families that might consider taking a child into their homes.
As she announced the sentence, Judge Moorman said that she herself would be dead by the time Barton could be eligible for parole. However, she said, "I'll see to it that you never see the light of day."
"Yes, ma’am." Barton replied to the judge.
Eyster said after the sentencing that Barton would go to the state correctional system's reception area San Quentin, and from there he will be sent to another prison, probably a maximum-security facility given the gravity of his crimes.
"This is a calculated, wholehearted and evil series of acts," Eyster said in his office after the sentencing. "He made his bed and now, as the old saying goes, he has to sleep in it."
Jen Aragon of Willits attended Tuesday's sentencing because her teenaged son had been a friend of both Teo Palmieri and Barton. Aragon, also a foster mother, said she had mixed feelings about the sentencing.
"I do understand that it's scary to bring someone into your home," she said. "At the same time, what's going to happen to these kids? Are we just going to throw them away? This child was a victim of abuse and he was failed by his parents. His first three years of life were crucial in learning compassion and empathy. He didn't get that. And then he was failed again by society. I don't agree with the prison system. I don't agree with sending people away. The end of his life is going to be just like the beginning of his life—he's going to be sent away to a violent environment."
(Jane Futcher lives near Laytonville.)