ERIE — The two defendants in the Erie pizza bomber case have met the same fate.
They each died in prison, with Kenneth E. Barnes the latest to perish while in federal custody.
Barnes, 65, died on Thursday while serving a sentence of 22½ years at the Federal Medical Center at Butner, North Carolina, near Raleigh, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons. WJET-TV first reported his death.
Barnes’ co-defendant, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, died in a federal prison in Texas in 2017, while serving a sentence of life plus 30 years in the pizza bomber case. She was 68 and suffered from breast cancer.
Barnes, who pleaded guilty in the pizza bomber case, had a prison release date of Sept. 10, 2027. He suffered from severe diabetes. His cause of death was not immediately available.
Barnes, a drug dealer, testified against Diehl-Armstrong at trial in exchange for a plea deal. He pleaded guilty in September 2008 to using a destructive device during a crime of violence and conspiracy to commit bank robbery.
He got the 45-year sentence in December 2008, but after his testimony and Diehl-Armstrong’s conviction, a judge halved the sentence in 2011.
Barnes added to the bizarre case by testifying that he participated in the pizza bomber plot so that Diehl-Armstrong could raise $250,000 to pay him to kill her father so that she could get what she believed was her inheritance.
In the pizza bomber plot, pizza deliveryman Brian Wells was killed when a bomb locked to his neck exploded after he robbed what was then the PNC Bank branch on Peach Street in Summit Township in August 2003.
Wells got away with $8,702, far less than the $250,000 that Barnes said the bank robbery was to produce so he could get paid for carrying out the hit on Diehl-Armstrong’s father. The contract killing never occurred.