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Man Acquitted of Murder, Waaaaay After the Fact

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on May 27, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

On Monday, May 21, a Philadelphia jury acquitted a man of murder. One may ask, why the acquittal? That the victim died after being shot by the defendant, there was no question. One small additional fact, the victim died 41 years after the shooting occurred

According to Reuters news service, Officer Walter Barclay was shot in the line of duty by the defendant, William Barnes, during an attempted robbery back in 1966. At that time, Officer Barclay sustained a spinal injury from the shooting and had been confined to a wheelchair ever since. The officer's actual cause of death? A urinary tract infection in 2007.

No angel, Barnes served 16 years in prison for the attempted murder of Barclay. Now 74, Barnes is ironically back behind bars due to a parole violation. His attorney says he does not expect to see him released anytime soon.

Reuters reports Barnes' defense attorney convinced the jury that while the defendant was responsible for the shooting, he was not responsible for Barclay's death. Attorney Sam Silver argued that any link between the shooting and Barclay's death was broken by three car accidents, two falls from his wheelchair and sadly, neglect by nursing home staff, any or all of which could have contributed to his death.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams defended the use of city resources to try Barnes with a statement saying: "William Barnes may not have been convicted of murder, but it doesn't take away from what he did. While it took over 40 years for that death to happen, it doesn't make it any less sad or senseless."

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