Thursday, August 23, 2007

Justice Served

The post I have been working on for the last few days is coming hard so I am going to shift a bit and point up something I saw in the Star Tribune today.

In 1966, Burglar William Barnes shot Rookie Policeman Walter Barclay. Barclay was severely injured and spent the rest of his life as a paraplegic. Barnes was arrested, convicted and served a prison sentence for the crime.

Barclay recently died and the Bucks County, Pennsylvania coroner ruled his death "resulted from injuries incurred in the shooting". The District Attorney is considering filing murder charges against Barnes.

Is this right? There is no question that Barnes actions were reprehensible. Barnes was also tried, convicted and served a sentence for the original crime. Is 40 years too long to be considered proximate to Barclays death? Is it right for the state to have 2 shots at Barnes for the same crime? How will justice be served here?

This one bothers me.


sage said...

this is an interesting case that if it goes forward should end up in the Supreme Court--sounds almost like double jeporardy. Also, what would the impact be on a host of other areas--if someone is injuried in a car accident and dies from it years later, do you go back and change the guilty party for manslaughter?

mal said...

Sage- good question. Does proximity in time play into the question? As far as double jeopardy goes? The government already has worked around that. Look at the case of the Police convicted of beating Rodney King. They were cleared in one trial than retried (and convicted) by the Feds for the same incident.

Ed Abbey said...

I'm with Sage in that this feels like double jeopardy. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Chris Hughes said...

> Is this right?

Could be. I see nothing problematic here.

> Is 40 years too long to be considered proximate to Barclays death?

Nope. Why should it? There is no statue of limitations on murder.

Is it right for the state to have 2 shots at Barnes for the same crime?

We can be sure that he was not tried for homicide the first time around - as there was no death. So I would support the DA that this is not the same crime.

How will justice be served here?

It will be served by holding the shooter accountable for his actions.

Ron Franscell said...

Personally, I think Barnes only made a down payment on his debt to society, and I'm ready for him to pay the remaining balance. But I am also fascinated with the cause-effect question that's being raised. In a society where we already have difficulty keeping convicted criminals in jail (witness the fatal Connecticut home invasion recently) I wonder how complicated it might become. I blogged about this case, too.

Freewheel said...

I think the causation will be questioned because so many years have passed. Moreover, if people believe that his original sentence was too soft, they should petition the legislature to toughen the penalty on attempted murder for future convicts.

Alice said...

man. i'm not sure what i think here. can they really make a case that his death 40 years later was still tied to the shooting? well... i guess that's the same as folks dying from lung cancer who started smoking 50 years ago and sue the tobacco companies, so nevermind. but... i'm sort of with you, it's not like this guy "got off easy" the first time around.. he did serve his time. and jail, after all, is supposed to be there to make people learn from their actions and come out as rehabilitated members of society. what if it worked for this guy? then we throw him back in anyway?

of course, it still comes down to the fact that his violent and malicious actions caused a man to die. so i'm back to square one. and have written WAY too long a comment already. :-)

QUASAR9 said...

lol Mal,
the pic and accompanying text
"The post I have been working on for the last few days is coming hard so I am going to shift a bit and point up something I saw in the Star Tribune today."

slightly misleading, I thought it was an advert, "batteries not included" or better "works on solar cells"

QUASAR9 said...

hmm so as not to belittle the article or lower the tone ...

could we sue our parents, for ultimately life results in death
That's right we've all inherited that pesky mortal gene, just as deadly as any bullet

Fantastagirl said...

Will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

AndiJF said...

I don't have any sympathy for someone who carries a gun (or indeed any weapon) in the course of committing a crime, let alone one who shoots his victim three times and puts them in a wheelchair for life. Frankly I'm a bit surprised that Barnes got away with a fifteen year sentence.

It isn't the simple passage of time here that would pose the problem to me, if I were on a hypothetical jury, but after forty years, I might have trouble deciding "beyond reasonable doubt" that Barclay's death was caused by the shooting. I suppose that would depend on the medical evidence.

Herr Krokodil said...


I say too much time has passed.

The victim had plenty of time to either kill the criminal himself or hire someone to do it.

If you wait too long to get even it's your own fault. I always keep a list of people I need to get even with because my memory isn't what it use to be.

The Synfuel Tax Credit terminates at the end of the year, do you have any scams in the works I can invest in?

Sue said...

I just found you through Frank and read some of your previous posts. Really like the blog! Hope you don't mind, but I'm going to link to you~~ (Your Iowa neighbor!)

Notsocranky Yankee said...

I think it's been too long. He was already tried, convicted and served his sentence.