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Kenneth Barrett found guilty in federal court of killing an OHP trooper

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ A man accused of killing an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper six years ago was found guilty by a federal jury Friday of killing a law officer while attempting to avoid arrest for a felony.

Kenneth Eugene Barrett faces the possibility of being sentenced to death after being convicted of the capital offense. The penalty phase of the trial begins on Wednesday before his eight-man, four-woman jury.

Barrett, 44, is already serving a state sentence for a manslaughter conviction in the death of Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper David ``Rocky'' Eales on Sept. 24, 1999.

Barrett was convicted of manslaughter and assault charges in Sequoyah County on Feb. 6, 2004, and received a 30-year sentence. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2004.

Besides the capital offense, Barrett was found guilty on federal drug and weapons charges.

Jurors began deliberating Barrett's guilt or innocence on Thursday and resumed Friday. They delivered their verdict at 11:12 a.m. Jurors heard 52 witnesses in 18 days of trial since Sept. 28.

Eales and other law enforcement officers were on Barrett's rural property to serve a no-knock search warrant. Barrett's attorneys, Bret Smith and Roger Hilfiger, contend Barrett shot at the officers in self-defense and that evidence against Barrett was either staged or was testimony from snitches.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said Barrett was not defending his property or his family when he fired 19 shots into an unmarked white Bronco that carried two law enforcement officers.

Eales was a ``soldier of the law'' shot in the back in a ``cold-blooded murder,'' U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said.

Barrett was seen laughing while Sperling counted out loud the 19 shots from Barrett's weapon.

Eales was killed because Barrett was avoiding arrest and prosecution, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Littlefield said. Littlefield said Barrett had planned an attack if law enforcement officers came on his property.

Witnesses testified Barrett hoped Sequoyah County Sheriff Johnny Philpot would be the officer to serve the search warrant so he could shoot him.

Hilfiger told jurors Barrett ``was guilty of some things, but not murder.'' He emphasized the unmarked white Bronco with no warning lights or flashers that approached Barrett's cabin after midnight.

``There was no identification, an unmarked car, no lights,'' Hilfiger said. ``When he shoots, the car does not stop. He keeps firing and the car kept coming.''

Barrett had $2,100 in cash at the time of the shooting, he said.

``He (Barrett) knows he deals in cash and he knows people know he deals in cash,'' Hilfiger said.
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