I have never experienced a more egregious abuse of the criminal-justice system by a prosecutor than what was orchestrated by former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham in filing murder charges against William Barnes for the death of Walter Barclay. To pursue an official charge of homicide involving a death that occurred 41 years after the original injury without having a complete autopsy performed and before obtaining and thoroughly reviewing all of the victim's medical and hospital records is truly incomprehensible and connotes serious professional negligence - if not personal malevolence.

Barclay's body was not exhumed until seven months after his death, and then only because I had informed Barnes' attorney that there was no valid way in which Barclay's death in 2007 could be related to his gunshot wound in 1966 without a complete postmortem examination.

The prosecution deliberately ignored the incontrovertible facts of Barclay's three motor-vehicle accidents, fall from a wheelchair, and terrible neglect by his caretakers for several years prior to his death in rigorously proceeding with this case. The huge expenditure of taxpayers' money in dealing with this scientifically spurious case over a period of three years, including substantial sums for medical experts, constituted actual misfeasance of office by Abraham.

Fortunately, justice ultimately prevailed. A jury of conscientious Philadelphia residents obviously did not take long to appreciate the fact that the prosecution had not presented a meritorious case, and Barnes was acquitted on all three counts of murder.

I trust that this kind of prosecutorial misconduct will never be experienced again under the aegis of your new district attorney.

Cyril H. Wecht

Forensic pathologist