Prosecutor: NKY man hatched, carried out murder plot because of a dream

Paul James will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering Barry Kenner.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 8:11 PM CDT

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (WXIX) - A Northern Kentucky man was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday after prosecutors say he committed murder over a dream.

In May, a Grant County jury found Paul James, 43, guilty of murdering Barry Kenner, 51. The same jury recommended a life sentence for James, and a judge upheld that sentence Tuesday.

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James shot and killed an unarmed Kenner in August 2018 because James blamed Kenner for the death of James’ brother, who died of an overdose and drowned, according to Grant County Commonwealth’s Attorney Leigh Ann Roberts.

James’ other brother dreamed that Kenner killed their brother, so James started plotting Kenner’s death, Roberts says.

Grant County deputies say Kenner called 911 after James shot him on Keefer Lawrenceville Road. Kenner was then airlifted to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he later died, deputies said.

“When you look at why, it’s sad, because it makes no sense and it was so uncalled for,” Roberts said. “I’m really happy for the Kenner family. I know they’ll never have their brother back, but they got their day.”

Kenner’s sister, Dar Kenner Tolbert, and his brother addressed James in court Tuesday.

“I hope you rot in jail and burn in Hades,” said Kenner’s brother while looking right at James, “Not a day goes by that I do not ask why this happened to my brother.”

“You are an evil, dangerous man,” Tolbert Kenner said, fighting back tears while reading the statement.

FOX19 spoke to Tolbert Kenner after the sentencing. She said the final verdict is closure for her and her family.

“He’s ruined two families,” she said.

The sister explained her brother had a dry sense of humor but a good heart. He also was known for growing tomatoes and being a devout Christian.

“I still can’t wrap my mind around why someone would do this,” she said. “It’s something I’ll have to live with the rest of my life, because I’ll never completely understand. It was based on a lie and a dream.”

The family waited almost four years for justice as the trial was delayed several times because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

James was also sentenced to five years for tampering with a witness. He will serve the sentences concurrently.

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