26 January 2021 :
Death sentence tossed for Kenneth Eugene Barrett.
Barrett, now 59, White, was convicted in 2005 in the shooting death of Trooper David “Rocky” Eales during a Sept. 24, 1999 drug raid at Barrett’s home in Sequoyah County. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a lower court ruling that found that while Barrett 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 Eales. “In reversing, we conclude that, viewing the totality of the evidence at trial, sentencing, and the post-conviction hearing, there is a reasonable probability at least one juror would have recommended a life sentence,” the 3-member court panel wrote in a 65-page ruling. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015 had ordered that an evidentiary hearing be held in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma regarding whether Barrett’s federal trial attorneys were deficient in not investigating his background and mental health during the penalty phase of the 2005 trial. 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.”