A Philadelphia jury this afternoon found William J. Barnes not guilty of murder in the death of a former Philadelphia police officer who died in 2007 - 41 years after Barnes shot him.
The Common Pleas jury of nine women and three men returned the verdict on the second day of deliberations following Friday's impassioned closing arguments from the prosecutor and defense attorney.
Barnes, a tall, thin, white-haired man of 74 years, was accused of causing the urinary-tract infection that killed former cop Walter Barclay, who died at 64 in a Bucks County nursing home in August 2007.
On Nov. 27, 1966, Barnes, a 30-year-old career criminal, shot and paralyzed the 23-year-old rookie cop while attempting to break into an East Oak Lane hair salon.
Lead defense Attorney Samuel Silver argued during the weeklong trial that linking Barclay's gunshot wound to his death 41 years later was not plausible because he had accumulated a mountain of unrelated medical maladies over the ensuing decades.
Among them, Silver noted, were three car accidents, two falls from a wheelchair and nightmarish neglect and abuse at the hands of boarders who were paid to take care of Barclay during his final decade of life.
Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron relied on testimony from former Philadelphia Assistant Medical Examiner Ian Hood that the death was a homicide, caused by Barnes' bullet.
Cameron cautioned the jury not to feel sorry for Barnes because of his age.
"Think about him, and what he did to him," Cameron said Friday, holding up two poster-sized, black-and-white photos of the defendant and victim as young, dark-haird men.
Cameron told the jury that if not for Barnes' bullet - the fragments of which remained in the victim's spinal region - Barclay would never have been in the three auto and two wheelchair accidents.
"Look him in the eye for what he is," Cameron told the jury. "Not an old man, but someone who took another human life."