• Dennis McCaslin

Sequoyah man who killed trooper in 1999 will get a new sentencing hearing

Kenneth Eugene Barrett

An appellate court has vacated a death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing for a man who fatally shot an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper during a 1999 raid on the man’s Sequoyah County home.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling this past week that found that while Kenneth Eugene Barrett, 59, had deficient legal representation during his trial, he suffered no prejudice as a result.

Rather, the appellate court determined that had particular mitigating evidence been presented at the trial, Barrett might not have received the death sentence for the fatal shooting of David “Rocky” Eales.

Kenneth Eugene Barrett

A magistrate who conducted the evidentiary hearing found that Barrett’s counsel performed deficiently and that such performance prejudiced Barrett at sentencing.

In 2019, a Muskogee federal judge agreed with the magistrate’s finding that Barrett’s legal defense was inadequate, but he overruled the prejudice finding, determining that “the jury would not have been impressed by (Mr. Barrett’s) experts’ opinions.” While Barrett’s defense did present testimony that he was a “loved family member and a good person who was sorry for his crime,” the appellate court noted, his attorneys did not introduce evidence that Barrett had experienced child abuse; had brain damage, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder; and struggled to “exercise judgment in pressured situations.”

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