MANDEL: Son who killed mom with eight blasts to head now free on parole

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There wasn’t even a parole hearing, just a phone call.

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Cody Barnoski was 14 when he killed his mom — her sister — with eight gunshot blasts to the head, and now he was free. At 29, the convicted murderer has his whole life ahead of him.

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While the woman who gave him that life, Michelle “Mimi” Barnoski, was wrapped in his Harry Potter blanket and dumped in a shallow, cold grave because she dared to question his skipping school.

“I feel stupid for thinking we’d get a hearing…there should have been a hearing,” says his devastated aunt, Nina Pelletier. “My brother-in-law nailed it when he said, ‘These people are tripping all over themselves to see that he’s rehabilitated, and we’re left with shattered lives and locked doors’.”

An Oshawa judge would call the planned and deliberate 2008 murder “nothing short of horrific, callous and brutal.”

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Cody was on probation at the time for assault with a weapon and uttering threats and living with his single mom in the Warkworth home of his uncle, Pelletier’s ex-husband, Marc Vickers.

There were fights over Cody’s girlfriend and his truancy and about Vickers’ messiness and failure to pay his bills. On May 27, 2008, those simmering arguments erupted in a vicious murder.

Barnoski grabbed Vickers’ .22-calibre rifle and shot his mom in the nape of her neck. She was still alive when her son fired seven more bullets into her face.

With help from Vickers, now serving a life sentence, Cody buried his mom’s body in a pre-dug grave and threw the rifle in a creek. He then told Pelletier that his mom had stormed out after they fought, and he didn’t know where she was.

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“For two weeks he lived with me, playing the victim, and we were so worried about him and all the while, he knew where she was,” his aunt says with disgust.

Mimi’s body was discovered in her backyard, and both her son and Vickers were eventually convicted of first-degree murder. Cody was sentenced as an adult in 2010 to life in prison and was awarded day parole in 2020.

In its recent decision, the board said they’d reviewed Cody’s case “by way of an in-office review” to determine he was ready for full parole: Since his release to a Hamilton-area halfway house, he completed a college welding program and is working toward his welding ticket. He spends weekend passes with his girlfriend at his own apartment and meets with a psychologist twice a month who reports he’s “stable” and poses “no current concerns.”

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The panel found Cody has progressed well during his two years in the community and won’t pose an undue risk on full parole. “The Board recognizes that you are demonstrating a commitment to live as a law-abiding citizen,” the panel concluded.

“That said,” they added almost as an afterthought, “your demonstrated ability to live pro-socially can in no way diminish the seriousness of your index offence or the significant and ongoing trauma that is being experienced by members of the victim’s family. Your crime resulted in the loss of life and as a result, you will live under supervision for the balance of your life.”

For Mimi’s sister, that trauma will never go away.

“It’s been 14 years and two months since Cody brutally beat and shot his mother, and then proceeded to manipulate and lie to his family and the police for 16 days while we searched frantically for her,” she wrote in her most recent victim impact statement. “One might think after 14 years that some healing or acceptance may have been achieved. I can assure you that it has not.”

She doesn’t believe her nephew has ever shown real remorse, even remarking once that he didn’t understand why his mom’s family was so upset — “it’s not like I killed them.” Since then, Pelletier says, there have been “robotic” pronouncements of regret but still no complete explanation of what happened that day.

His aunt can’t forgive him. But she believes her sister would.

“The truth is, she would have forgiven him anything. Even this,” Pelletier sighs. “He was her world.”

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