By Joanna Connors, The Plain Dealer
RAVENNA, Ohio — Two sets of parents, two groups of friends and two communities wept Tuesday in a Portage County courtroom as the beloved, promising son of one family was sentenced for murdering the beloved, promising son of another family.
Common Pleas Judge John Enlow gave Adrian Barker, 21, of Shaker Heights, the mandatory murder sentence of 15 years to life for hitting, kicking and stomping Christopher Kernich, 23, of Fairborn , during a fight in Kent on Nov. 15.
Kernich, a Kent State University senior, died six days later of tramatic brain injury.
Barker, who did not testify during his trial last month and maintains that he is innocent, made a short statement before Enlow sentenced him. Turning to Kernich’s parents and sister, who were in the back row of the courtroom, he said, “I feel terrible and devastated as to what happened. I feel terrible about the results of this tragedy. No family should have to endure this kind of pain.”
Pain filled the packed courtroom during the nearly two-hour hearing, as friends and family members told the judge and the courtroom about Barker and then Kernich.
The men they described were remarkably similar. Both were star athletes in high school, Barker in tennis; Kernich in football, baseball and basketball. Both had many friends, and made sure to include outsiders in their groups. Both had a special connection with young children. Both had bright futures within their grasp.
Kernich was due to graduate this month from Kent; Barker was in his junior year a the University of Akron.
John Kernich, the victim’s father, played a Power Point presentation, with photos of his son.
“Christopher Michael Kernich fell victim to impacts and trauma on the night of Nov. 15,” he said. “It’s ironic that we’re here giving what you call family impact statements, because nothing can every match the trauma faced by myself, his mother, his sister and his friends.”
When her turn came, Sherry Kernich, the victim’s mother, could barely speak.
“No word in the dictionary can describe my loss,” she said, sobbing. “I’m sure Adrian Barker’s family raised him to be a good boy. But he had no right to knock down my son, and then stomp on his head when he saw that he wasn’t even moving. What kind of person does that to a person?”
Story Compliments Of The Plain Dealer