Public Safety

Illinois man sentenced to 30 years for shooting and seriously injuring Cedar Rapids woman

Victim tells judge 2017 injury 'changed my life forever'

Leon Barnes
Leon Barnes

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman told a judge Tuesday that a shooting in 2017 “dramatically changed my life forever.”

During a victim impact statement, Lailah Wood, 42, said she now walks with a limp and can’t work after Leon Barnes, 26, of Bartonville, Ill., fired several shots at her when she arrived home Dec. 30, 2017.

“I almost died,” Wood said. “It changed me physically, emotionally … in every way.”

Sixth Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns sentenced Barnes to 30 years in prison for intimidation with a weapon, willful injury causing serious injury, possession of a firearm as a felon and going armed with intent.

Barnes must serve a mandatory five years each on the intimidation and willful injury convictions — 10 years total — before being eligible for parole.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said the plea agreement applied to the sentencing.

The shooting, he said, was “senseless gun violence” with serious consequences for the victim.

Linn County Chief Public Defender Brian Sissel said Barnes’ mental illness issues played a role in the offense. Barnes, he said, has been in treatment for the last two years pending the resolution of this case.

Barnes declined to make a statement.

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The judge also ordered Barnes to pay $2,750 in fines but waived payment of restitution to reimburse the state’s crime victim’s assistance program, which has helped pay Wood’s medical bills, saying Barnes didn’t have the ability to pay.

The judge has no discretion over the fines for the offenses.

Barnes, during a plea hearing in August, admitted to waiting for Wood in a vehicle outside her home before shooting her.

Police said Wood was shot in the abdomen.

Barnes evaded police by fleeing to Illinois after witnesses named him as the shooter.

Barnes later bragged to a companion about shooting a woman, according to the complaint. He was extradited to Linn County in January 2018 and originally charged with attempted murder and other charges.

Vander Sanden, after the sentencing, said the shooting wasn’t random: Barnes knew Wood and the shooting stemmed from a family-related dispute.

This case took nearly two years to resolve because Barnes was found incompetent to stand trial — meaning he didn’t understand the nature of his charges and couldn’t assist in his defense — at two different times pending trial.

Court proceedings were put on hold until his competency was restored.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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