A Vian man, who faces execution for the murder of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) trooper, will have his defense reviewed, the 10th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
Kenneth Eugene Barrett, 54, (above, top) has been in jail and prison ever since Sept. 24, 1999, when he shot at a contingent of OHP troopers who stormed Barrett's home just off Dwight Mission Road in a drug raid. Barrett was suspected of manufacturing and selling methamphetamines.
Barrett opened fire on the troopers and shot two in the front vehicle. David "Rocky" Eales (above) died in the shooting and John "Buddy" Hamilton was wounded.
Barrett was found guilty of manslaughter in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw, but not given the death penalty. Instead he was given 20 years for Eales death and another 10 for the wounding of Hamilton. A second trial in U.S. Federal Court in Muskogee resulted in the death penalty. In that case he was found guilty of intentionally killing a law enforcement officer engaged in the line of duty.
On Wednesday the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a hearing should be held to determine if Barrett was adequately represented at trial, and if his attorneys failed to present evidence about Barrett's mental health. The hearing will be held before a federal judge in U.S. Court in Muskogee. If it is determined Barrett's defense was insufficient, he could avoid the death penalty.
In the ruling, the appeals court wrote Barrett's "history suggests mental illness."
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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