Sporting a dark-green prison jumpsuit with a bright orange T-shirt underneath, Delvin Barnes made his first appearance in Philadelphia federal court on Wednesday to face charges that he abducted 22-year-old Germantown resident Carlesha Freeland-Gaither earlier this month.
Barnes’ eyes scanned a courtroom packed with attorneys and media members before he sat down for a five-minute hearing in which he successfully applied for court-appointed counsel.
Nina Spizer, assistant chief of the Federal Community Defender Office, said she and Elizabeth Toplin will represent the 37-year-old defendant.
“I was just appointed 10 minutes ago,” said Spizer, by way of declining comment on several questions when she left the James A. Byrne United States Courthouse around 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Spizer’s first order of business will be a Friday hearing in which the sides will argue over whether Barnes will be held until trial or be offered bail.
Those detention-hearing arguments will also be heard in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacob P. Hart.
Until then, Barnes will remain in custody.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanine Linehan rushed by an onslaught of cameras without making comment following the hearing.
The back story
Around 9:40 p.m. on Nov. 2, security cameras near the intersection of W. Coulter and Greene sts. in Germantown captured footage of a man forcing Freeland-Gaither into a car after dropping her eyeglasses and cell phone into the street and kicking out the driver-side rear window.
That video drew national attention to Germantown’s Penn-Knox section over the subsquent days as local and national law-enforcement entities searched for Freeland-Gaither and her abductor.
Among many investigative breaks for investigators was learning that Freeland-Gaither’s debit card was used at a stand-alone ATM in Aberdeen, Md. at 6:01 a.m. the next day. Surveillance footage from the ATM showed a male wearing dark clothing using her card.
Three days after the abduction, Freeland-Gaither and the suspect were found in a Jessup, Md. parking lot. After being treated at an area hospital, Freeland-Gaither returned home following an emotional press conference announcing her rescue at the 35th Police District.
Barnes was also wanted in connection with a brutal Oct. 1 kidnapping of a 16-year-old Richmond, Va. girl who “was allegedly picked up off the street and stuffed in the trunk of a car.”
In 2005, Barnes was found guilty locally of aggravated assault, criminal trespass and, among other charges, false imprisonment, in a 2005 case involving his estranged wife.