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Police: Man receives accidental call from ex-boss plotting death

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Courtesy KAIT

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The owner of a used car dealership in Jonesboro was arrested after police say he conspired to commit murder.

Court documents state the supposed target found out about the alleged hit after he was accidentally made a part of the conversation.

Jonesboro police told Region 8 News, unbeknownst to 68-year-old Larry Barnett of Jonesboro, while he was hiring someone to kill his former employee, he let the target in on it and explained in detail how and why he wanted it done.

Sergeant Doug Formon with JPD explained it started when Barnett, who owns Legend Motor Company on South Stadium Boulevard, accidentally called his former employee.

"Basically, he overheard a conversation between that individual and another unknown male and he was giving out his personal information, his address, where he lives," Sgt. Formon explained.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Barnett told the supposed hitman, "I don't care if you have to burn his house to the ground with him in it" and to "make it look like an accident."

From there, the target called JPD. Since he lives in Greene County, their sheriff's department was called in to assist. When they arrived at the intended target's home, the accidental phone call had been going on for an hour and a half.

"The conversation on the phone had already ended but the phone call was still active to Mr. Barnett's cell phone."

It seems it didn't take long for the hitman to act. Court documents state the target went to the police department to fill out a report after the phone call. When he returned home, police say it had been burglarized and his gas stove had been tampered with.

During the phone call, the target overheard that Barnett had attempted to have him killed once prior but "they couldn't get the job done". He told the unknown man he would pay him $5,000 up front and "the remainder when the job was done."

The target said he overheard Barnett give his reasoning behind the murder for hire plot as well. "I owe the little son of a ***** a bunch of money and if he's gone, I don't have to pay for it."

During an interview with police, Barnett admitted to mistakenly calling the intended victim as well as discussing his phone number and address to that unidentified man.

"I've been here now for 25 years and I've never recalled a time when a subject has accidentally, if you will, 'butt-dialed' someone they're either trying to commit a crime against or the possible victim of the crime," Formon said.

Barnett's temporary bond was set at $1 million, however in court Monday, it was lowered to $50,000. That, however, could change in the coming days.

Since his probable cause hearing for the conspiracy to commit murder investigation, Barnett is facing separate charges for felony theft greater than $25,000 and felony forgery.

Jonesboro Police say Barnett was falsifying documents for his bank. As Barnett owns Legend Motor Company, police say he would forge VIN numbers for vehicles that didn't exist, so he could receive loans. Police say that amounted to over $100,000 he stole from his bank.

Barnett is expected to be in court Tuesday for his two new charges.

Region 8 News will continue to track this story as it unfolds.

Read on KAIT (Includes video)

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