Mother of man killed struggles to explain to her daughter what happened to her father

Justice Files

PROVO Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Pelalina Fusi wonders what she’ll tell her daughter about her daddy who was murdered.

“I know later on in life she’s going to ask why is he not here?” Fusi said. “Why did he have to do that?”

Elbert Paule was behind Dominque Barnett’s death. He was originally charged with Barnett’s murder.

In March, Paule was acquitted of the 2019 murder of his one-time friend. But the jury found him guilty of obstruction of justice.

Fusi told ABC4 that she was still surprised that Paule was not found guilty of murdering her boyfriend.

“I just couldn’t believe it, that the verdict was not guilty for any of the charges except for obstruction of justice,” Fusi said. “I didn’t understand that.”

Thursday, Paule appeared before a judge to learn his fate. At stake, whether Paule would serve time in prison or be granted prison. Barnett’s family and girlfriend were also present via a video conference.

Paule apologized but maintained his life was threatened.

“I am truly sorry,” said Paule. “It was never my intention to take Mr. Barnett’s life however I felt like my own life was threatened. I just ask for an opportunity to develop my life.”

In 2019, Paule killed him with a shotgun blast after Barnett arrived at his apartment. Paule told the jury that Barnett had threatened him and a lady friend.

“I saw the knife,” Paule told the jury in March. “I made eye contact with him and he took a step forward. I took the shot. To be quite frankly honest, I was fearing for my life.”

Paule threw the loaded shotgun into some bushes and fled to California. He later turned himself in.

Despite little criminal history, Judge Lynn Davis didn’t like the fact that Paule lied under oath. He said it hindered the investigation which prevents further arrests. He also noted that Paule didn’t have any plans for his future nor a place to live if he’s released from jail.

He handed Paule gets a one-to-fifteen year prison sentence and gave him credit for the 400-plus days he’s served in the Utah County jail.

“We were obviously weren’t able to get everything that we wanted to,” said Fusi. “But I’m happy that he’ll serve a little prison. At least a little sliver of justice.”

Fusi said she and Barnett were about to be married. But his death has sent her down a different path.

She said she’ll raise their daughter proudly.

“Every morning and every night she says good night to her daddy,” Fusi said. “She kisses his picture instead of his face. I’m hoping that I raise her right that she’ll know that her dad loves her.”

As for Paule, it will be up to the board of pardons to determine how long he will have to serve in the one-to-fifteen year sentence.

But he’s also facing another felony charge for lying under oath. If he’s found guilty, his prison sentence could be extended.

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Next up, read about parents struggling to forgive the man who broke into their son’s home and shot and killed him and paralyzed his friend. Or, flip the story and read about mothers accused of killing their children.

Marcos Ortiz
Emmy award winning journalist and producer, reporter of the Justice Files seen nightly on ABC4, begining his career in Blythe California with stops in Green River and Cheyenne Wyoming. He was hired to be KGGM’S political reporter in Santa Fe, New Mexico before arriving in Salt Lake City in 1992 as a general assignments reporter before moving into the crime beat.

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