CINCINNATI (AP) — A judge on Monday scheduled a Sept. 19 trial for a former suburban police official who’s asking to be let out on bail after a federal appeals court overturned his conviction in his wife’s death during a botched burglary.
Warren County Common Pleas Judge Michael Gilb heard arguments Monday afternoon in Lebanon on bail for former Springboro Police Lt. Thomas “Jim” Barton, but he didn’t rule immediately. Barton’s attorney said he is committed to fighting the allegations against him, but prosecutors said he is a flight risk after more than a decade in prison.
His 2005 manslaughter conviction was overturned last year in federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to review the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that authorities improperly withheld evidence that could have helped Barton’s defense.
The appeals court also expressed skepticism about the testimony of a key prosecution witness.
Prosecutors are going ahead with plans to try Barton again. They have until late September to put him on trial or set him free, under the appeals court order.
Prosecutors said Barton, 60, hired men to stage a burglary because he wanted to scare his wife, Vickie, into moving from their rural home to Springboro, near Dayton, to improve his chances of becoming chief of police in the small city. Authorities charged Barton after a cold-case team in 2003 examined his wife’s 1995 death.
He was convicted of complicity to involuntary manslaughter and to aggravated burglary and sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.
The unanimous ruling last year by the 6th Circuit panel said the state’s case relied heavily on a witness who presented an “unsupported, shifting and somewhat fantastical” story at trial. It also said suppression of evidence made it more difficult for Barton to discredit the state’s theory. No one else was ever charged.
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