Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's not enough.......

On November 27, 1966, Philidephia officer Walter Barclay was responding to a burglary at a beauty parlor. He was shot and wounded in the 66-hundred block of North 5th St that day. Barclay, 23, saw his police career end less that a year and half after it had begun when that shot paralyzed him.

The shooter was said to be William Barnes, 30 and he was arrested shortly afterwards. He was convicted of shooting officer Barclay and served almost fifteen years of a 10-20 year sentence. On Sunday, August 19 2007, Walter Barclay passed away at St Mary Medical Center in Bucks County, 40 years after the shooting.

"The medical examiner determined that the death was a result of complications of him being shot and their subsequent ruling is that his death is a homicide," stated Chief Inspector Joe Fox.

Barnes has managed to turn his life around since the shooting. A recent City Paper profile noted his work as a tour guide at Eastern State Penitentiary, where he had served time for his crimes. He also lectures at Temple University in an urban studies class and it has been said that he was very effective because of the guilt he has carried for shooting Barclay.

Barnes was arrested August 20 2007 in connection with the Barclay case, at his present job at a Shop Rite store in Roxborough. Those who know the 71 year-old Barnes, state that he has been trying to reform his life.

"He's been in prison more that he's been out and now he is trying right now at the very end of his life to make a little bit of good out of all the bad that he's experienced," stated Sean Kelly of Eastern State Penitentiary.

William Barnes has now been charged with murder, almost two weeks after Barclay died of an infection. By it's own admission, police officials have stated that Barnes's case is a first in the history of the department. The charge of murder would not be double jeopardy but it will be a difficult case to prove it seems. Officials must prove that Barclay died from injuries from the shooting as his sister Rosalyn Harrison claims.

It not only seems to be a difficult case, it seems an almost pointless waste of money to prosecute Barnes. He served a fairly large sentence for the shooting already and at age 71, is it really worth the money that will have to be spent to put an old man back in jail for a crime he has paid his debt to society for already? I could understand the need for the new charge, if Barnes had only gotten a slap on the wrist but he didn't, he was sentenced to 10-20 and he served almost 15 years.

Officer Walter Barclay it is said, never expressed bitterness about his fate and only mentioned his shooter Barnes, once in all 40 years. I believe Barnes has served enough time for that crime, a death 40 years after the fact, is going to be tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Of note: photo of Barnes 2007 and photo of Barnes at the time of his arrest in 1966.

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