Texas soldier’s appeal in murder of teen girlfriend’s mother rejected

Caleb Barnes. (CBS/file)
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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) A Pennsylvania appeals court has upheld the life-without-parole sentence imposed on a soldier in his 20s from Texas who was convicted of killing his then-14-year-old girlfriend's mother because she disapproved of their relationship.

The Superior Court panel rejected the appeal by El Paso resident Caleb Barnes in Cheryl Silvonek's 2015 killing.

Barnes was 20 when Silvonek was killed.

The Fort Meade, Md., soldier argued his statements to police should've been suppressed because he was under duress, but the court said police never tried to intimidate him and he never sought a lawyer or an end to the interrogation.

The panel found no fault with testimony from girlfriend Jamie Silvonek and a friend who reported overhearing her and Barnes talking about killing her parents.

Jamie Silvonek pleaded guilty and is serving 35 years to life.

Barnes was sentenced in September 2016.

Lehigh County Judge Maria L. Dantos told him as she pronounced sentence that he would be "locked in a cage for the rest of your natural life" as she imposed the mandatory life term and added 22 to 44 years on other counts.

A jury convicted Barnes in August 2016 of first-degree murder, rejecting his allegation that his girlfriend killed her mother and that he only helped dispose of the body later because the teen said she was pregnant.

Authorities said Barnes stabbed Cheryl Silvonek in her car after Barnes, Cheryl Silvonek and Jamie Silvonek returned home from a concert.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Dimmig said Barnes killed the woman because she had threatened to report him to police for having sex with her underage daughter.