Judge delays retrial of man accused of killing trooper
Tuesday, July 1st 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
SALLISAW, Okla. (AP) _ A Sequoyah County judge has delayed the retrial of a man charged with killing a state trooper until issues are resolved regarding the appointment of a special prosecutor to the case.
Kenneth Eugene Barrett was scheduled to go on trial Aug. 1 for the September 1999 shooting death of David ``Rocky'' Eales. District Judge John Garrett rescheduled the date for Jan. 2.
``There is no way, because both sides assure me they're going to take me up on that issue,'' Garrett said Monday.
The state Attorney General's Office appointed Darrell Dowty as special prosecutor. Dowty retired this year as the top assistant prosecutor for Sequoyah County.
He prosecuted Barrett last October in a trial that ended with a jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction.
Eales and another trooper were shot during a night raid by a Sequoyah County drug task force on Barrett's rural cabin. Barrett is accused of firing the shots that killed Eales. The other trooper survived.
Garrett will hear arguments Aug. 18 by defense attorney John Echols that Dowty shouldn't be reassigned to the case. Echols said he believes that Dowty's appointment _ and how he's paid _ might violate state statutes.
``Either (District Attorney Richard Gray's office) handles its own case or, if they have a special prosecutor appointed, follow the right statutes,'' Echols said. ``And they pay for it themselves.''
Echols successfully challenged Gray's decision to appoint Dowty initially. Echols said state law prevents a state officer from doing contract work for his former agency for a year after his departure.
He also has challenged the attorney general's plan to pay Dowty as much as $20,000 for the job. The expense will be shared by the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, reports indicate.
``We regard this appointment as an attempt to get around the statutes,'' Echols said.