The Curious Case of Barnes and Barclay

There is a fascinating case pending before a court in PA.

In 1966, a police officer is shot during the apprehension of a suspect in a break-in.  The officer lives.  The suspect is tried and convicted of attempted murder and serves over 20 years for that crime, and others.

Fast forward forty years.  The criminal has completed his incarceration, the police officer has been wheelchair bound, paralyzed because he was shot in the spine.  The police officer now contracts a urinary tract infection (UTI), and experiences complications.  He suffers a fatal heart attack, resulting from the complications of that UTI.

Officials have now re-arrested the criminal, now age 74, and plan to try him for murder.  Their case?  The police officer (now age 64) died as a result of the gunshot wound.  How?  The gunshot wound to the spine paralyzed him, placing him in a wheelchair.  Prosecutors say that the UTI was a direct result of the paralysis, and the infection generated complications, which caused the fatal heart attack.  Ergo, the police officer died as a result of that gunshot wound, suffered forty years ago.

The Defense has put forward the argument that there may have been causes in the intervening years, the officer had been in two car accidents and experienced a fall from his wheelchair.

Further influencing the case is the fact that an autopsy has not been performed.  The Medical Examiner testified that the autopsy had not been done because medical records clearly indicated that death resulted from the UTI, which “stemmed from” the paralysis.  The Medical Examiner reported the cause of death as a homicide.

How do you think this case should be decided?  Is the criminal responsible for the officer’s death, forty years later?

The story appeared on the Reuter’s Network, the Philadelphia Daily News, and was also discussed on the Michael Smerconish radio program.  The listeners’ opinions were pretty evenly split on both sides of the issue.

I have my own opinion on how this should play out, but I’d like to hear your opinion first.

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20 Responses to The Curious Case of Barnes and Barclay

  1. Joy says:

    I’m kinda scared to go first. I’m thinking I many be in the minority BUT….I feel this man served the time they gave him. I know how terrible robbery and shooting someone is and it’s worse yet that it was a police officer but…they gave him a sentence and he served it. He’s also 74 years old and I think he should just be left to live out the rest of his life.

    I’m now standing back waiting to be stoned.

    • I’m not stoning you, Joy. There’s a criminal justice system for a reason. I’m not saying it always works. I’m not saying that I jump for joy when rapists get three years in prison and then go about their lives.
      But that’s not the case here. This man sat for twenty years in prison, and who knows how much might have changed for him in that time. Maybe he repented, maybe he was torn with guilt, maybe he found God. Maybe not. But he served his time for the original crimes, and the death of this officer, although horrible, cannot in my opinion be his fault.

  2. SKL says:

    Wow, is this for real? That is too remote. A 64-year-old can be in a wheelchair even if he was never shot, and a 64-year-old can certainly get a UTI even if he’s never been wheelchair bound. A knowledgeable guy once told me that UTIs are a leading cause of death in the elderly. There’s no way they could prove this guy would never have had a UTI if he hadn’t been shot 40 years ago. Give me a break. Maybe they ought to be suing his doctor for not making sure his UTIs got treated promptly and effectively.

    Furthermore, if the guy served more than 20 years, he’s already spent more time in jail than most murderers.

    And finally, if the guy is 74, putting him back in jail isn’t going to serve any societal purpose. It’s just going to cost a bunch of taxpayers’ money. Gimme a break. The only way I could see this making sense is if the shooter has been harassing the cop in recent years.

    • Joy says:

      That’s kind of where my mind went SKL. How could they prove the UTI was caused by the shooting? I know a lot of people who get them and they’re not in a wheel chair nor have they been shot.

  3. Ellen says:

    No, Joy, you qill not be stoned by me, for sure! You are totally right. This goes way too far. And I thought about the same as SKL: maybe the doctors should had done a better job.

  4. mssc54 says:

    This is a perfect example of our elustrious judicial system being abusive.

    Gosh I hate to even mention this but… is it possible that there is also an element of raceism involved? Maybe not entirely based on race but, who knows.

    This guy should sue for malicious prosecution.

    There now I’ve tied raceism and lawsuits all in one comment. Go figure.

  5. The shooter served his time, and should not be charged for murder, IMO.

  6. Laura says:

    I’m on my way out, so I’d better put my comment in now…

    I agree with everyone else. The shooter has done his time. He may be a dirtbag, but he still served, as SKL said, more time than many murders do. And he served it for Attempted Murder.

    As for the UTI… even if the wheelchair-bound gentleman was catheterized, isn’t it HIS responsibility to see that it’s properly cared for? (I mention this because it was pointed out to me that if he was catheterized, that would make it directly related to the shooting, and if an infection caused the UTI… you get the picture.)

    Further, I find it more than a little suspicious that the Medical Examiner declared the death in a situation like this, a murder, with no autopsy or further investigation.

    • SKL says:

      Yeah, that’s weird about the medical examiner. He obviously knew all about the shooting and didn’t make his decision based on the evidence he was supposed to be examining (the dead body).

      If anyone thinks this is actually reasonable, what does that mean about every other person who has injured someone? Will they all be charged with murder when that person eventually dies, decades later?

      If the death had occurred fairly soon after the crime, though, I could see the murder charge.

  7. Karen Joy says:

    I totally agree with whats been said already.This might go over if it happened soon after but not years later.. ridiculous!!

  8. pammy wammy says:

    He has served his time.This is stupid in my opinion.Let him live his life on the outside.

  9. Jason says:

    This case sounds like its on the verge of a double jeopardy. In which you can’t be tried for a sentence you already served. I am surprised they have even tried to go after this one. I am sure it was a horrible event for the officer and his family. Why not go after the Dr. for malpractice while your at it who knows if he even diagnosed it right the first time. It seems a little over the top for me

  10. Sue says:

    This is just whacked. I agree with everyone else that the offender served his time and there is no point to put him back in jail. It sounds to me like the ME is a little suspicious so I’d be checking him out. If this man is convicted b/c of this UTI then it opens another can of worms for the long term health care facilities and for families who take care of loved ones at home.

  11. Nikki says:

    I agree with everyone else. He served his time. It doesn’t make what he did any better, but he served his time. It won’t bring back this officer. The man that shot him is 74, seriously?! Is he a threat to our society? I think not. It’s a waste of space and tax money. give that cell to a rapist, a murderer who hasn’t served any time. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a long time.

    If a UTI caused a heart attack, it wasn’t taken care of and like Sue just said, that opens a whole new can of worms! Go to the ones that were supposed to be taking care of him, not the person who has done the time for the crime he did 40 years ago!

  12. lucy says:

    I agree with everyone else too. He served his time… and I think there definitely should be a time limit for these things. IF the police office would have died within a year or so of the shooting it would MAYBE be a different story… but 40+ years later is ridiculous.

    (I think this might be the FIRST time EVER that everyone agrees?!)

    • Joy says:

      I thought the same thing Lucy about all of us agreeing. To think I was nervous to comment first. I thought since it was an officer, people would object.

      • Laura says:

        you know, I really did want to be on the side of the officer. But this, to me, is just wrong.

        I’m willing to change my mind, of course, if there is evidence that hasn’t come out, which is entirely possible, considering that all the info I have is what the press is reporting.

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