Father Of Hannah Barnes Said He Had "Sweet, Sweet Time" With Parents Of Michael Hennen After Train Tragedy

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Phil Barnes testifying
Phil Barnes testifying

The father of Hannah Barnes testified Tuesday that he had "a sweet, sweet time" with the parents of Michael Hennen after the tragic deaths of the two young people on a railroad track at Sale Creek on Aug. 22, 2011.

Phil Barnes said he was invited into the home of Tim and Corinne Hennen for the joint grieving session.

He said the Hennens were among those attending Hannah's funeral, along with several Hennen's Restaurant employees.

Asked about a notation on the funeral guest book by the name of Lisa Barnes that she lived on Margaritaville Lane, he said, "That was someone playing a cruel joke."

Asked by attorney Al Henry, attorney for Hennen's Restaurant, if he "had rather not be here or involved in this lawsuit," he said, "Absolutely."

In another question from the defense, he agreed that "he thought a lot of Michael for stopping at Walmart at 3:30 in the morning to buy Hannah a swimsuit" and "he would have been proud to have Michael as a son-in-law."

Phil Barnes was called as a witness by his former wife, Lisa Barnes, who is seeking $25 million against the restaurant where both Hannah and Michael worked.

The trial in the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Neil Thomas broke off in the late morning when the courthouse was closed due to snow. It is set to reconvene on Thursday at 9 a.m. 

Mr. Barnes said he met Lisa when they were working at the same bank. They were married in 1990. She had two children by a prior marriage. He said those children still call him Daddy. He and Lisa were divorced in 2006.

Asked to describe Hannah, he said, "She absolutely glowed. She was beautiful and energetic. She was outdoorsy, very people-oriented and had a great work ethic. She was just a bundle of energy."

A photo of a young Hannah was shown to the jury. Mr. Barnes said it was sent to him after her funeral by her fourth grade teacher.

He also said her older sister, Teal Orr, made up photo books of Hannah. She gave one to him and one to Lisa the Christmas after her death.

Mr. Barnes said he moved to Signal Mountain so Hannah could go to high school there. He said he had to take her out of private school when his bank was sold and he no longer received bonuses.

Later, he said Hannah lived with her mother, but was not happy staying there. He said he suggested that she move in with him, but she said it would be costly for gas up and down the mountain along with wear and tear on her car.

He described being told about Hannah's death by a sheriff's investigator at the bank where he worked. 

He was asked if he was aware there was no cash in Hannah's wallet when her body was found. It was testified that she and another server got $150 cash tips for working the party of Corinne Hennen the previous night.  

The jury also heard from Cole Adams, boyfriend of Hannah for three years prior to her death.

He said he met Hannah in 2008 when he was a sophomore at Signal Mountain High. They started dating though she was a year and a half older.

"It was a very good trusting relationship," he said. 

Michael Hennen sometimes went to movies with them, he said.

Mr. Adams said he only saw Hannah drink alcohol perhaps two times. He said, "I did not see her drink much at all. It was experimental, I guess."

He said he stayed the night at the apartment of Lisa and Hannah Barnes on Aug. 21, 2011, and he left the next afternoon as she was going to work. He said she wanted to see him that night, but he told her it was too late because he had to be at work at 7:30 the next morning.

Mr. Adams, asked what he remembered about Hannah, said, "Her smile, her laugh, how happy she would be in any situation." Asked what he missed the most, he said, "Probably seeing her laugh."

Talking about when he was told of her death at work at his father's brick company, he said, "I fell against the wall and slid to the floor. It was one of the worst feelings I have ever had. A piece of me left me that day."

Sanders Parker, former head bartender at Hennen's, said he did not know of anyone giving Hannah samples of drinks at the restaurant.

The father of Lisa Barnes called Hannah "the apple of my eye."

He said he did not see Hannah drinking at the third wedding of Lisa Barnes in 2008.   




PHOTOS: Swearing In Ceremony At Convention Center

County officials were sworn in during ceremonies Tuesday morning at the Convention Center (click for more)

Woman's Body Found In River Was Latasha Nichols

Family members say the woman's body found in the Hiwassee River was that of 34-year-old Latasha Nichols. She was reported missing last month. The family said DNA testing was conclusive that the body was hers. Family members say they want to know what caused her death. The viewing will be Wednesday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Jim Rush Funeral Homes in Cleveland. The ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library - And Response

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)

Silverdale Dishes Up 3-1 District 5-A Volleyball Victory

Silverdale Baptist Academy’s volleyball team served up a four-set victory over District 5-A rival Chattanooga Schools for the Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. The Lady Seahawks got a combined 17 service aces from Molly Rumfelt and Caroline Couch and posted a 3-1 win over the Lady Patriots at Silverdale. The set scores were 25-15, 25-18, 22-25, 25-11. Rumfelt, the only senior ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy Soccer Tops Ooltewah, 5-1

Sophomore midfielder Soni Whalen scored two goals and senior Baylee Burk had a goal and an assist to lead Soddy Daisy to a 5-1 District 5-AAA girls soccer win against host Ooltewah Tuesday night. Carly Pifer and Kelsey Henry also scored for the victorious Trojans. Ooltewah's goal came in the 76th minute by Olivia Tawzer. Soddy Daisy improves to 3-2-1 overall and ... (click for more)