Barker found not guilty of first-degree attempted murderThe question of whether Demarcus Barker intended to shoot Willie Ricks Jr. when the pair met up for a drug deal last fall proved to be at the center of Barker’s first-degree attempted murder trial.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
The question of whether Demarcus Barker intended to shoot Willie Ricks Jr. when the pair met up for a drug deal last fall proved to be at the center of Barker’s first-degree attempted murder trial.
“The intent issue was difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt. That was the key to the case,” said Barker’s defense attorney Timothy Dillon.
On Tuesday morning, Goodhue County District Court Judge Lawrence Clark found Barker, 32, not guilty on the most serious of the 10 charges facing him: first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault.
“A lot centered on what happened inside the van,” Assistant County Attorney Chris Schrader said, adding that Clark said there wasn’t enough information to prove whether Ricks was shot during a struggle for the gun or if it was actually an intentional shooting.
Still, Clark found Barker guilty of possession of a firearm, second-degree assault and terroristic threats.
The court trial, which began Sept. 14, recapped events that took place Sept. 23, 2010, in the parking lot of a Casey’s General Store in Zumbrota.
Ricks, then 30, of Red Wing, had agreed to meet Barker for a drug deal. Surveillance video from the convenience store – which was played during the trial - shows Barker getting in the van with Ricks, the van shaking and Barker quickly exiting with a gun. Ricks had been shot twice, once in the chest and once in the hip.
The state argued that Barker intentionally shot Ricks after the drug deal “went sour.” The defense argued that Barker found the gun after he got in the van and Barker and Ricks engaged in a “life and death struggle,” ending when Barker shot Ricks in self-defense.
The trial ended Sept. 19, with Schrader asking the court to find Barker guilty on all counts.
“I’m disappointed,” Shrader said after Tuesday’s verdict. “I thought there was enough to get past the intent issue. But the judge didn’t see that and that’s his job.”
Dillon was more pleased with the trial’s outcome. “It could always be better. But, all in all, I think the judge did a real good job,” he said.
During the trial, the court heard from witnesses that included the two women who were with Ricks in the van just before he was shot, trauma doctors and law enforcement officers who responded to the scene.
Ricks also took the stand, though he testified obviously false information, including that Barker had shot him five times and that he had tried to chase Barker. During Tuesday’s verdict, Schrader said the judge had found Ricks to be “credible,” but that his memory had been “compromised by his injuries.”
Barker has been held in Goodhue County Jail since last September and was held again following Tuesday’s verdict. A pre-sentencing investigation to determine his criminal history will be conducted before a Nov. 15 sentencing.
“He’s most likely still going to prison,” Shrader said, referencing what he calls Barker’s “significant criminal history.”
According to the original court complaint filed in the case last fall, Barker has multiple convictions in Illinois, including aggravated battery on a police officer and manufacturing a controlled substance, for which he was sentenced to six years in prison.
Ricks was in the courtroom Tuesday to hear the verdict.
“Obviously he wasn’t thrilled with the result either,” Schrader said. “He’s going to have a bullet in his hip for the rest of his life.”