MURRIETA (CNS) – A convicted felon who fatally shot his girlfriend and
then fled to Las Vegas with his and the victim’s 2-year-old son was
sentenced Friday to 113 years to life in state prison.
A Murrieta jury in April convicted Celestine John Stoot Jr., 44, of
Lake Elsinore of first-degree murder, child cruelty, being a convicted felon in
possession of a firearm and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury
allegations for the July 2021 slaying of 43-year-old Natasha Denise Barlow of
During a sentencing hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in
Murrieta Friday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jeff Zimel imposed the
maximum term of imprisonment for the offenses.
According to a trial brief filed by the District Attorney’s Office, at
the time of the shooting, Stoot and Barlow were living together at his
residence in the 17600 block of Hayes Avenue, along with several of her young
children from a prior relationship and their son, also named Celestine, but
commonly called “C.J.”
On July 4, 2021, Stoot and Barlow attended a Fourth of July party at a
friend’s house, where the couple got into an argument stemming from what
the defendant considered her disrespectful attitude, mainly “talking back to
him” when he told her to do something, the brief said.
The conflict escalated before Stoot and Barlow went to bed, leading to
a physical confrontation, during which he struck her over the head with a
.45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, court papers said.
After hitting her several times, the defendant fatally shot her
through the neck. The bullet went through a wall into the children’s room, but
none were injured, according to the brief.
Stoot fled the residence with C.J. but later returned after his
cousin, identified in court papers as “D.J.,” picked him up in Perris. The
defendant retrieved belongings from his house, after which his cousin allowed
him to take her vehicle, dropping her at a residence in Moreno Valley before
heading with his son to Las Vegas.
During the predawn hours of July 5, sheriff’s deputies received a
report that Barlow had been fatally shot, and investigators went to the house,
immediately identifying Stoot as the perpetrator.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued, asking the public to be on the
lookout for the felon and child and providing a description of the car he was
Authorities captured Stoot with his son in Las Vegas the following
afternoon. The fugitive was taken into custody, and C.J., who was unharmed, was
placed in the care of loved ones.
The defendant has prior convictions for gun assault, domestic
violence, possession of drugs for sale and witness intimidation.
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