The 71-year-old former convict who served 20 years for shooting a rookie Philadelphia police officer in 1966 was hospitalized yesterday, delaying his preliminary hearing on the murder charge filed after the officer died in August.

Municipal Court Judge Bradley K. Moss said that the defendant, William J. Barnes, had been taken to Frankford Hospital - Torresdale Division after complaining of dizziness, and that, because of his age, doctors decided to keep him for additional tests.

The judge said that Barnes was reported in stable condition, and that "if everything checks out," he likely would be returned to the city prison system today.

Moss said the preliminary hearing was postponed until at least Friday, and perhaps until February.

Officer Walter T. Barclay was shot on Nov. 27, 1966, when he interrupted a predawn burglary at a beauty shop in East Oak Lane. One bullet pierced his spine and paralyzed him.

His family said Barclay suffered for years from his injuries. He died in August of a urinary-tract infection at age 64.

Prosecutors believe they can prove an unbroken chain of events between the shooting and Barclay's death in a trial that likely would shape up as a battle between medical experts.

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron said his chief witness at the preliminary hearing would be the medical examiner, and defense attorney Bobby Hoof said he planned to call a medical expert at trial.

Barnes, a career criminal, was convicted in the shooting and sentenced to 10 to 20 years and served all 20 years, Hoof said.

All told, Barnes has spent nearly 50 years behind bars for a variety of crimes.

After his release from prison in 2006, he took a tour of the old Eastern State Penitentiary - where he had once been locked up - and ended up as a tour guide there, giving unvarnished accounts of his life in prison and what he had done to get there.

Hoof said he remained concerned about Barnes' health. "He's had two heart attacks already. A third one has always been right around the corner," he said.

Hoof said Barnes was concerned about the murder charge.

"To be charged with murder at this point in time after he served 20 years, he is a little apprehensive about it," Hoof said.