Murder trial begins in case where victim died 41 years after getting shot

    Case could hinge on expert testimony

    The trial of William Barnes, arguably one of the strangest and most controversial trials ever held in Philadelphia, gets underway later Monday. Barnes, now 74, is accused of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Walter Barclay. Barnes shot Barclay in 1966, but Barclay didn’t die until more than four decades had passed.

    The young criminal once known as “Cowboy” for his reputation as a cavalier stickup man is now an enfeebled, and reportedly a humbled old man. But that didn’t prevent the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office from charging him with murder. Barnes has already served 26 years in prison for attempted murder in the shooting.

    A host of expert witnesses are expected to take the stand, debating whether the urinary tract infection that ultimately killed Officer Barclay was caused by the gunshot wound that left him wheelchair bound for 41 years. Temple University Law Professor Jim Strazella says it’s a tough sell.

    “That will be totally one way or another by how clearly the evidence goes in. I’d want to see how that goes in before I’d even make an attempt at a guess at how it should come out.”

    Strazella says he believes the charges are permissible, and don’t violate any double jeopardy laws.

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