ITHACA, N.Y. — Psychiatric examiners are split on whether an Ithaca murder suspect is competent enough to plead guilty to killing a man.
Justin Barkley, 38, is charged with second-degree murder after police say he admitted to shooting and killing Candor man William E. Schumacher on Dec. 8 in the Ithaca Wal-mart parking lot.
Barkley subsequently led police on a brief chase before firing a “sound shot” at officers in the driveway of his home on the 1200 Block of Dryden Road. He was taken into custody after a nearly eight-hour standoff with police ended without further violence.
Barkley was prepared to plead guilty to murder at his arraignment Dec. 19, but unexpectedly told court officials that he was convinced he shot President-Elect Donald Trump.
“I shot and killed Donald Trump purposely, intentionally and very proudly,” he said in court. “I went there to purposely shoot and kill him and put him down.”
He told the court that he understood the difference between mistaking a person for being Trump and asserting that he actually killed Trump. When asked if any evidence could be presented to him to suggest he killed a different person, he said, “I would hope not.”
In court Firday afternoon, Judge John Rowley said two psychiatric examiners had different opinions about whether Barkley was competent.
Assistant District Attorney Eliza Filipowski said that legally, a third examiner is now required to weigh in on the issue. The new examination is slated to take place next week.
Rowley scheduled a new hearing Jan.19 to discuss the matter further.
District Attorney Matt Van Houten said that after a post-hearing conference Friday, it’s still unclear whether the hearing will be open to the public. Rowley said during court that it may depend on the contents of the reports, which are currently sealed.
Attorney James Baker is representing Barkley.
Featured Photo: Justin Barkley is led into the Tompkins County Courthouse Friday afternoon. Photo by Alyvia Covert/The Ithaca Voice