LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – A Georgia dentist pleaded guilty Friday to killing his wife in 2004 and to shooting to death a girlfriend 14 years earlier while he was in dental school.
In both cases, the women's deaths initially had been declared suicides.
Barton Corbin, 42, entered guilty pleas to two counts of malice murder four days into jury selection for his trial in the death of his wife, Jennifer Corbin. He had been scheduled to stand trial later for the death of his former girlfriend, Dorothy "Dolly" Hearn, in Augusta.
Corbin was sentenced to two terms in prison, though the judge ordered that they be served simultaneously and that Corbin be eligible for parole.
Hearn's death had been ruled a suicide but the case was reopened soon after Jennifer Corbin was found dead in the couple's Buford home near Atlanta in 2004. Both women died of single gunshot wounds, and in both cases, the gun was found nearby.
Prosecutor Danny Porter said the case was cracked when investigators linked the murder weapon to Richard Wilson, a close friend of Barton Corbin. Wilson told authorities he had given Corbin the gun on Nov. 30, several days before his wife's murder.
"I'm happy for the Hearn family," Porter said. "Finally they can know their daughter didn't commit suicide, and we solved the murder of Jennifer Corbin."
Defense lawyer Bruce Harvey said Corbin hoped his admission would bring closure to both families. He said Corbin didn't say why he killed the two women.
"The placement of the weapon in Barton Corbin's hands was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back," Harvey said of the abrupt guilty plea.
Hearn had been a 27-year-old dental student at the Medical College of Georgia when she was found dead in 1990. She and Corbin had dated for more than a year but were breaking up at the time.
Corbin's marriage was falling apart in 2004 when his wife died. He had filed for divorce and sued for custody of their sons five days before his 33-year-old wife was found dead. According to court papers, Corbin said he had discovered his wife may have had a relationship with another woman.
Corbin showed no motion when he entered his pleas. After the sentencing, family members were allowed to address him.
"God might forgive you. I never will," Jennifer Corbin's father, Max Barber told Corbin. "I speak for my family when I say I just virtually hope you burn in hell."
One of Hearn's brothers, Carlton Hearn, told Corbin: "Sixteen years of silence. Sixteen years of pain. My family agrees with what's been said here today."