COVINGTON, Ga. Funeral services were held Thursday for a man convicted of killing a 2-year-old and injuring her mother, aunt and two young cousins in an attack with a car at a McDonald's restaurant three years ago.
Shortly after his arrest in May 2006, it was learned that Lanny Perry Barnes had leukemia. Sharmelle Brooks, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections, confirmed the 49-year-old Barnes died June 24 at Augusta State Medical Prison.
Witnesses said Barnes smiled and laughed as he struck the family leaving the Covington restaurant and ran over them several times, killing Avery Nicole King of Asheville, N.C. No motive was established.
The child's pregnant mother, Anita King, aunt Stephanie Casola, and Casola's sons Isaac and Jacob were injured.
The two women demonstrated with others Thursday outside the church during Barnes' funeral. Demonstrators held signs saying "Today the world is a better place," and "Child Murder," and a large banner with pictures of Avery.
Paul Casola, the father of Isaac and Jacob, 6 and 7, told The Covington News that he had personally forgiven Barnes.
"I had to let everything I had toward Lanny Barnes go," he said. "What I have are two wonderful boys ... so I have everything to be thankful for. I am still sad that Avery was taken from us."
According to retired Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols, Barnes' medical bills exceeded $470,000, a third of his department's medical care budget in the 17 months he was in custody before being sentenced to life with no parole for murder and aggravated battery.