Crime & Courts

Wichita man who stabbed girlfriend to death gets life in prison

A 26-year-old Wichita man who stabbed his girlfriend to death in her apartment then called 911 has been sentenced to life in prison.

Dylan Leigh Barber won’t be eligible for parole until he serves 50 years of the life sentence, said Dan Dillon, spokesman for the Sedgwick County district attorney’s office.

Authorities say Barber killed 22-year-old MacKenzie A. Payne on June 26, 2018. Emergency dispatch received a 911 call from Barber at around 2 a.m. that day, saying “he had a knife, his girlfriend was not alive and that responding police officers were going to have to kill him,” according to a police affidavit released last summer.

When police showed up, Barber was standing next to a vehicle parked by a nearby business with blood on his clothes and hands. He was holding a chef’s knife with an 8-inch blade.

According to the affidavit, Barber told the officers: “I want to kill myself for what I did to my girlfriend.”

Court records indicate the couple was in a volatile stretch of their relationship: Barber had made suicidal statements and demands of Payne, then threatened her following a break up several days before Payne’s murder. She responded with concerns about “the difficulty of their relationship impacting her medical school career” and alternated between hope for a reconciliation and worry at Barber’s “jealousy, explosive temper, and fake suicide threats,” court records say.

Officers found Payne’s mutilated body in the hallway of her apartment. Her injuries included a cut to her throat and stab wounds to her stomach, according to court records. She died at the scene.

Barber pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree intentional murder in February. He tried to withdraw that plea on Monday — saying in a written motion that he “was under the influence of newly prescribed psychological medication” that affected his behavior at the time of Payne’s killing and that his first defense attorney didn’t turn over information to him that might have affected his decision to plead in the case.

But the judge refused to let him do so, according to court records.

Barber’s defense attorney also argued that he should only have to serve 25 years before he is eligible for parole because he admitted guilt in the case and “is not a threat to himself or society” when he is properly medicated. The judge also denied that request.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.
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