Criminal Justice

Jury Acquits Man of Murder in Case of Cop Who Died 41 Years After Shooting


William Barnes has already served 16 years in prison for shooting and paralyzing a police officer in 1966. Now, as a result of a jury verdict on Monday, the 74-year-old defendant won’t have to serve any more time for the policeman’s death 41 years later.

The jury deliberated only six hours, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The officer, Walter Barclay, died from a urinary tract infection and blood poisoning in 2007. Defense lawyers argued the maladies were too far removed from the initial shooting, the Inquirer says. Barclay was apparently abused by caretakers, according to hospital records, and had developed incurable bedsores. He also had been in three car accidents and two wheelchair accidents.

Also likely weighing in favor of the defense was Barnes’ present day appearance. The story describes him as a “frail, grandfatherly-looking man with thinning white hair who used a cane.”

Lawyers from Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis represented Barnes on a pro bono basis.

Although Barnes won his freedom on the murder charge, he is in back in jail for a parole violation—possessing a cell phone and car keys, found when he was arrested on the murder charge.

Additional coverage:

Legal Intelligencer: “Debate Continues Over Prosecution in 40-Year-Old Shooting”

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “After Serving 20 Years, Man Faces Murder Charge in Same 1966 Case”

ABAJournal.com: “Deja Vu: Same Case, New Charge”

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