A 20-year-old man is scheduled for trial Monday in the death of hospital executive Robert Barber, who was shot two years ago while walking home from Caribou Coffee.
And court records suggest that a key witness for the prosecution is the sister of the accused.
Barber was killed on a residential street near Fairview Road midmorning on April 22, 2011, a random assault that shocked the South Charlotte neighborhood.
But despite the public nature of the shooting, his assailant got away.
Two days later, Chauncey Sterling’s sister contacted detectives and told them her brother texted her cellphone and “admitted to shooting ‘someone,’ ” according to documents filed in court by Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones.
Sterling used his sister’s semi-automatic handgun, the documents stated, and cartridge cases recovered after the shooting “positively matched” the gun.
Sterling’s sister, Lawanda Sterling, and their mother, Wanda Jennings, both of Rock Hill, have been subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution.
Police have said that Sterling went looking for someone to rob on Good Friday, saw Barber walking alone on Mullens Ford Road and shot him during a holdup.
Sterling’s mother told the Observer at the time that if her son is guilty, “he needs to be punished.”
In part because Sterling and his family cooperated with police, prosecutors decided against seeking the death penalty. Other factors included Sterling’s age at the time (18) and the fact that he had no prior convictions.
Barber, who was 64 and went by Bob, worked nearly 20 years for Carolinas HealthCare.
He was the go-to guy to fix problems at newly acquired hospitals. He also served 33 years in the military reserves, first in the National Guard, then with the Air Force Reserve, and taught health administration at several colleges.
“He had a soft place in his heart for young people,” Michael Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare, said after Barber’s death.
The morning he was killed, Barber had driven to Caribou with his wife, Debbie.
When she left to go to work, he decided to walk the 3 miles home.
But just a few blocks from the coffee shop, he was confronted by a man with a gun.
Police said Barber struggled with his killer.