They executed an innocent man this week

May 19, 2020, 5:55 PM ET: Today the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt the execution of Walter “Arkie” Barton, after the court of appeals for the 8th Circuit lifted the stay on his execution, discounting evidence of his innocence because it was previously available to his defence counsel. Barton was executed later that evening. 

The Innocence Project reports how Barton was convicted of a 1991 murder based on unreliable evidence; he has always maintained his innocence. On Monday May 19, 2020 afternoon, Missouri Governor Parson denied Barton clemency and Barton’s legal team filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Midwest Innocence Project, the Innocence Project, and the MacArthur Justice Center had asked Missouri Gov. Michael Parson to stop Barton’s execution and appoint a Board of Inquiry into his innocence. Unfortunately, he didn’t step in.

Walter Barton

  • Barton was convicted based on the testimony of an unreliable jailhouse informant and the use of bloodstain pattern analysis — a forensic method whose validity scientists have questioned. Nearly half of all DNA exonerations in the United States involved the use of misleading or misapplied forensic science, like blood spatter evidence. New forensic evidence points to his innocence.
  • The only piece of physical evidence used to connect Barton to the murder was a spot of blood found on his shirt, which Barton has always said got on his shirt while he was pulling the victim’s granddaughter off her body — a fact the victim’s granddaughter confirmed to investigators. New expert analysis has revealed that the spot is consistent with Barton’s account of events, and that the blood was not a result of spatter from the crime. Significantly, the victim was stabbed 50 times, and the real perpetrator of the crime would have been covered with blood, which Barton was not.
  • The only other physical evidence in the case — hair found on the victim’s torso and biological material underneath her fingernails — does not match Barton.
  • The unit that convicted Barton is also responsible for the wrongful conviction of at least four other innocent men.
  • Barton has been tried five times and had two convictions overturned.
  • At his fourth trial, Barton was convicted but, again, his conviction was overturned after the prosecution was found to have engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, including the use of perjured testimony from a jailhouse informant. This same informant testified at Barton’s fifth trial — his latest to date — at which he was convicted and sentenced to death.
  • Barton has had woefully inadequate counsel, including one attorney who has since been suspended from the practice of law.


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7 Responses to They executed an innocent man this week

  1. John S says:

    Something tells me there’s no accident that he was executed while Trump was still in office, and while other things were distracting us away from this. Now that he’s dead, it makes his case less likely to be resolved as he can no longer really benefit, nor can he now be called up for any further testimony!

    The US are no longer a player for good with over 50% of its citizens now thinking things are getting worse and not likely to get better. A metaphor for the “developed” world in general (sometimes the “developing” world seem no worse than us now).

    Vale Justice and vale the better days we all had in the 1980s. What hope is there for Julian Assange? It’s these folks today and the rest of us tomorrow! We’re all screwed!

  2. Brian Johnston says:

    Who did it.
    What about a civil action against Michael Parson.
    Will Parson get re-elected.
    In New Zealand wife Christine Lundy was found with the hair of 2 males in her grasps and DNA under her fingernails. Daughter Amber also found with DNA under her fingernails. None of the hair nor DNA belonged to husband Mark Lundy. Mark in gaol for murder of Christine & Amber. Many believe Mark is innocent.

  3. Mary Lewis says:

    May Walter Barton’s soul rest in peace, whether he believed in God or not. Man’s justice is once again, injustice. I don’t know the whole story, but it seems to me that Walter’s conviction was a very unsafe conviction. It seems incredible that in this day and age a man can be put to death on the basis of an unsafe conviction. In this type of case, I always wonder whether the jury would be happy to be convicted, and receive the death penalty, on a similar standard of evidence! That is really the acid test for “beyond reasonable doubt”.

    • John S says:

      I think the death penalty is repugnant, and should never be used in such iffy cases. Sadly it reflects that we’re still the same as the Neanderthal thugs that clubbed each other in caves if they just didn’t like the look of each other!

      • andrew says:

        The death penalty means it’s morally OK for the state to kill, but not ok for citizens…killing is wrong and repugnant, as you say, whoever does it, for whatever reason. If it can be justified as a penalty, it can not be argued that it is immoral.

        • John S says:

          Well put Andrew, how can it ever be considered right to kill when you & I would never get away with it normally (unless self defence). Two wrongs don’t make a right!

  4. Diane Kemp says:

    What a sad state of affairs!!!!! Bloodymindedness and egos too big to admit a mistake was made has resulted in the loss of Barton’s life. And we call this justice.

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