Ontario teen convicted in mother's brutal 2008 murder granted day parole
Michelle Barnoski was brutally beaten and shot to death by her son in 2008 after an apparent argument about skipping school.
OTTAWA -- Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers.
A then-teenager convicted of brutally murdering his mother in rural Ontario in 2008 has been granted day parole after 10 years in prison.
Cody Barnoski, now 27, was only 15 when he was charged with the first-degree murder of Michelle Barnoski in Warkworth, Ont., about 50 kilometres southeast of Peterborough, Ont., after an apparent argument over skipping school.
Michelle Barnoski was shot eight times in the head and neck and brutally beaten. The court hearing at trial there were signs of blunt force trauma to her head and that both bones in her left arm and one in her right hand had been broken.
Cody Barnoski received an adult life sentence in Oct. 2010 with no possibility of parole for seven years, while Marc Vickers, 34, who lived with the two as a roommate and landlord, was also convicted the following month.
Barnoski, 33, was buried in her own backyard shortly after her death, but police didn’t find her for two weeks after her son and Vickers covered up the crime. Barnoksi’s sisters reported her missing after Cody said she hadn’t returned home after she stormed out of an argument.
The disappearance, murder and trials shocked the small village of roughly 900 people.
In granting Barnoski’s request for day parole this month, the parole board outlined a childhood rife with drug and alcohol abuse by his parents, being abandoned by his father at a young age and attending nine different schools in the span of eight years.
A psychological assessment for trial noted Barnsoki was raised in a “chaotic and highly conflicted, sometimes violent household.” A previous application for parole said he was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age but his mother refused to put him on medication and encouraged him to use marijuana in his teen years.
A recent psychological assessment, the board noted, indicated he was in the ‘moderate range for both general and violent recidivism’ but was prepared to be gradually integrated into society.
Nina Pelletier, Cody’s Aunt and Michelle’s sister, attended the parole hearing and in a statement said, “I truly hope nobody else gets hurt from the Parole Board's decision to grant Cody's release.”
Barnoski is slated to stay at a residential facility in the Hamilton-area for the six-months’ day parole he’s been granted, which comes with conditions to avoid family members of the victim, meet with a mental health professional and to not associate with known criminals or do drugs.
Day parole is the first step to full parole for offenders and it was the second time Barnoski had sought it after his first application was rejected by the board last fall.
Barnoski did not respond to a letter sent to him in July seeking comment on his parole application.
Vickers, who had dated Pelletier until early 2008, had agreed for Cody and Michelle Barnoski to live in his home to help pay the mortgage on the then-separated couple’s home.
Barnoski was reported missing June 4, 2008, by Pelletier and her sister after Cody had said she left their home the week before and never came back after an argument. He told police and his aunts she would be frequently gone for days at a time.
The mother of one had just started a new job and was in her red 1999 Pontiac Sunfire when she disappeared, police said,. The car was later found abandoned a few kilometres away.
A full search turned up nothing and officers began to target Barnoski and Vickers after they used Michelle’s debit card to buy bleach in the nearby town of Hastings, Ont.
Police searched the home again on June 12, where Barnoski’s body was found partially buried beneath a pile of tires in the backyard wrapped in a Harry Potter blanket. It was 16 days after her reported argument with her son, from which he said she had stormed off.
Both Vickers and Barnoski were found guilty and sentenced in separate 2010 trials, with Barnoski serving the majority of his sentence at Joyceville Institution in Kingston before being granted day parole on Sept. 11. Vickers remains in custody at Bath Institution in Kingston.
Co-accused maintains he was not involved in murder
As Barnoski begins day parole, his co-convicted maintains his innocence; Vickers concedes he is guilty of being an accessory after the fact, but that it was Cody who pulled the trigger.
Vickers’s final appeal in the case was rejected back in March in one of the last cases heard in Ontario courts before being shut down because of COVID-19.
His lawyers have tried to introduce statements Barnoski has made in the past they say proved Vickers was not involved in the actual murder, which was the central issue at his 2009 trial. But all of the statements, at least 10 of them, have been ruled ‘hearsay’ and deemed inadmissible.
The murder weapon was a gun given to Vickers by Pelletier’s father, which he said Cody had taken the night of the murder. As an argument ensued between the two Barnoski’s inside, he said, he went to smoke marijuana and suddenly heard several gunshots from inside the house.
At this point, he claims he fainted on the driveway and awoke to Barnoski holding a gun to him and instructing him to help clean up.
Vickers concedes he is guilty of being an accessory after the fact but not first-degree murder, as he said he drove Barnoski’s car up the road to abandon it, drove Cody to buy bleach, ditched the gun in a creek on a drive to Oshawa and helped bury her body on his property.
Speaking from Mount Forest, Ont., Katherine Rawlings, Vickers’ mother, was not pleased with Barnoski’s release and audibly gasped when told the news by phone as she also maintains her son’s innocence.
“I can’t believe he’s allowed to be out and free and Marc’s still in jail and innocent,” she said, close to tears.
“The justice system is broken.”
A lawyer for Vickers said this past summer his client’s only chance of a new a trial or being released and clearing his name, would be for Barnsoki to publicly declare he wasn’t involved in the murder, a scenario he noted was highly unlikely.
Vickers was unaware of Barnoski’s parole status as of late Tuesday afternoon.