Man who killed friend paroled after one year
The 25-year-old Coon Rapids man who punched and killed his longtime friend in 2010 served a little more than one year of his prison term before the Iowa Board of Parole released him in December.
Travis Barker killed his roommate William "Billy" Smith, 28, with one punch to his head in Smith's Coon Rapids house on Sept. 3, 2010.
The blow to Smith's temple - which Barker later told a judge was meant to end a fight between Smith and another roommate - caused bleeding around Smith's brain and swiftly killed him.
Barker pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison in November 2011.
He was imprisoned at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility and set to be released in December 2013 with credit for good behavior, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections.
But the five-member parole board decided to release Barker from prison on Dec. 19. Its chairman, Jason Carlstrom, has not returned telephone calls to comment for this article.
Barker is now living in Tucson, Ariz., according to his Facebook page.
"Ready for some sparkling cider and a cigar so pour me some suds," he apparently wrote on New Year's Eve on the online social networking site. Barker's profile picture shows him flexing muscles in a white undershirt and smiling. He could not be reached to comment for this article.
Fred Scaletta, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said inmates are sometimes granted parole and allowed to move to another state to live with relatives "if there's some reason to believe that they can be successful."
Arizona corrections officials would have to approve the transfer and assign a parole officer to Barker, Scaletta said.
In April, a judge denied Barker's request to set aside his prison sentence and replace it with probation. Barker asked for the reduced prison sentence because of "the nature and circumstances of this case" and because he has been well-behaved since his arrest and has the support of his family, court records show.
Smith's mother, Linda Smith, said at the time: "I couldn't handle it if he was out. My world is upside down. I'm on very shaky ground."
Smith said she suffered from severe depression after her son's death. Billy Smith went to her house not long after Barker punched him and complained that his head hurt. He was wobbly, restless and incoherent and later lost consciousness.
Linda Smith could not be reached to comment for this article this week.
Smith's family had repeatedly said Barker's punishment was too lenient. He originally faced a murder charge that could have put him in prison for life, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Carroll County Attorney John Werden, who prosecuted the case, has said that Barker deserved a prison sentence of up to 20 years, but that Iowa law doesn't allow the penalty for involuntary manslaughter.
Barker apologized to Smith's family when he was sentenced in 2011.
"Billy was a brother to me. I'm sorry for what happened," he said. "I do love him. I love each and every one of you."
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