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home : news : local   April 30, 2016

8/23/2013 6:08:00 AM
Judge: No more tests in '84 murder case

Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

Thursday, a La Salle County judge granted a state motion to bar additional testing on Barrow’s nearly 30-year-old murder case. While there’s nothing to stop Barrow from coming back with a fresh petition, his long-pending request to have evidence retested is dead in the water.

Barrow roundly protested Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia’s ruling Thursday that he can no longer move forward on a series of post-trial motions; but the judge stood firm.

La Salle County state's attorney Brian Towne applauded the judge's decision to halt Barrow's efforts to have evidence tested again and again.

"We've never been opposed to subjecting old evidence to new tests," Towne said. "It was a strong case against Barrow and we knew lab analysis would only show that Barrow's jury got it right a long time ago.

"Nevertheless, Barrow's continuous petitions were becoming redundant, time consuming and, ultimately, a waste of taxpayer dollars. Enough was enough."

Barrow, 54, is serving life in prison (commuted from a death sentence) for the 1984 murder of 86-year-old Joseph O’Berto of Cedar Point. He has vehemently denied his guilt and has sought post-trial relief or appeals for most of the past 29 years.

After ex-Gov. George Ryan issued blanket commutation and emptied death row in 2003, Barrow didn’t appear much in court. That changed in 2008, when he petitioned the court for DNA testing and other tests that weren’t available at his trial. Among the items he wanted analyzed was the .357-caliber bullet that police recovered from O’Berto’s home.

Earlier this year, prosecutors filed a motion to finally halt the various testing and accompanying trips to court.

In a March 19 filing, assistant state’s attorney Jeremiah Adams said Barrow has been given every test result he has asked for, yet the state still is shuttling Barrow from prison to court and back for hearings deemed unnecessary. 

“The defendant has the results he asked for,” Adams wrote. “No further hearing is appropriate under this statute. To continue to writ the defendant back from the Department of Corrections is a waste of time and resources.”

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