Crime and Punishment: The Blog

September 5, 2007

66′ Shooting leads to an Interesting Set of Circumstances

This is a very, very interesting story of the split decisions we make, and how they can effect us for the whole rest of our lives. I thought about re-telling the story with my cynical twist, but JoAnn Loviglio does a spectacular job of telling you already. Why re-invent the wheel? Check out her story HERE and then come back for discussion…

What do we think of this? Personally, I guess I’d want to meet this fella that originally shot Officer Walter T. Barclay. Because to get a feel for whether or not William J. Barnes deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his life for something he’s spent an awful lot of time in prison for already, I’d need to get to know the man. Is he a different person? JoAnn doesn’t seem to think so, really. She tells us in her story that he had several escape attempts and spent a lot of his time in solitary confinement. That doesn’t really lend credence to him learning the error of his ways and show us his awesome rehabilitation efforts.

For those who didn’t go read, the basic gist of the story is this: (before I tell you, I really recommend you go read it. It’s a very interesting and complex story of which you will not get all the details here) Officer Barclay responded to a burglary call in 1966. At that call, Barnes shot him and paralyzed him. Barnes went to prison and served his time for attempted murder. He was paroled and violated, paroled and violated, and never really seemed to care one way or the other how his actions effect any one else.

But, Walter died on August 19th this year. And, as a result, one excited little prosecutor has filed murder charges against William Barnes. Joann’s article states that Prosecutor Abraham said, “I support and applaud people who turn their lives around, but that doesn’t mean I forgive them for what they do and just write it off.”

I’m having a tough time forming an opinion on this. On one hand, I feel like the man served his time, and while it’s a terrible tragedy that Walter suffered throughout his life, that Brown served the time.

You get one or the other. You can’t get attempted murder AND murder charges. If you kill someone, you don’t get additionally slammed with attempted murder, right? There seems to be something wrong here. If they do truly follow through with this and they get a conviction for murder, I would think that at the very least he’d get time served for the attempted murder conviction.

But, what’s time served on a life sentence? That is exactly what he’ll get if convicted. That time served is, as my late mother would say “About as useful as tits on a boar hog”.

So, is this convict, who’s served his time, and is working his minimum wage job and doing what he’s got to do to get by…is he worth fighting for? Because this is one of those cases to watch. If this overzealous prosecutor gets away with these charges, then this will be one that’s going to be used as reference in the future. It will be a bit of history that will rear it’s ugly head anytime someone pisses off the right person in the prosecutors chair for years to come.

And, what do the victims families think in this case? Are they for putting this guy away?

I guess, I question really, who this guy is as a person. I want to know what he’s about. Because it seems awfully harsh to let a man think he’s served his time and is free and clear on a crime committed 41 years ago, only to bring them back again. Link the evidence all you want to our victim’s death. But, I just feel like this is wrong.

What say you?


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