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Convicted killer called to testify in Charlotte County murder trial

Phillip Barr

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — A witness serving a life sentence for a 2015 murder conviction was called to testify Wednesday in a cold-case murder trial.

Phillip Barr invoked the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination, when he took the stand in the trial of David McMannis, the man accused of helping Barr kill 19-year-old Tara Sidarovich in 2001.

Ellen Becker, one of the state’s key witnesses, said she saw Barr and McMannis at Sidarovich’s home and return later to park the truck in the driveway.

McMannis’ lawyers maintain that while McMannis admitted to being at Sidarovich’s house shortly before her disappearance, he didn’t return to the house with Barr and and wasn’t involved in Sidarovich’s death.

Although Barr will not testify, the defense is calling him to return to the stand in front of a jury so the jury can note his size and demeanor.

The trial is expected to last up to a month.

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