The case against accused cop-killer William J. Barnes is about a rush to judgment by a medical examiner who wanted to get death benefits to a grieving family as quickly as possible, the defense attorney told the jury in his closing argument yesterday.
That's "nonsense," countered Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron, sitting in a wheelchair for dramatic effect.
Cameron told the jurors that the case was about Barnes paralyzing and killing former Philadelphia police Officer Walter Barclay - no matter how long after he shot him.
The jury of nine women and three men began deliberating Barnes' fate yesterday and will continue Monday.
Barnes, 74, served 16 years in prison for gunning down Barclay, who interrupted the burglary of an East Oak Lane hair salon on Nov. 27, 1966.
Barclay, at the time a 23-year-old rookie, lived for 41 years, paralyzed from the waist down, before dying of an urinary-tract infection in August 2007 that Cameron argued was linked to Barnes' bullet.
But defense attorney Samuel Silver argued that linking the death to the shooting was impossible because Barclay suffered numerous injuries and ailments after the shooting.
Silver took sharp exception with former Philadelphia Assistant Medical Examiner Ian Hood, who determined in 2007 that Barclay's death in a Bucks County nursing home was a homicide. He said Hood made that determination without seeing the body or performing an autopsy.
The day after Barclay died, Silver told the jury, Hood called the medical examiner in Bucks County to say that the death was a homicide to speed the process of getting benefits to Barclay's family.
Barnes would be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted of first- or second-degree murder.