ITHACA, N.Y. — Accused Ithaca murderer Justin Barkley is scheduled to appear in court again later this month, after being referred to a psychiatric facility to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.
Barkley, 38, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting and running over William Schumacher on Dec. 8. He’s also charged with menacing a police officer or peace officer after shooting at two police officers and ensuing a nearly eight-hour standoff with multiple law enforcement agencies before surrendering.
He later said he believed unequivocally that he shot and killed Donald Trump, who was president-elect at the time of the killing.
Related — Man accused of Ithaca homicide: ‘I shot and killed Donald Trump purposely, intentionally and very proudly’
On Jan. 19, Barkley was deemed not competent to stand trial and Judge John Rowley — with evaluations from two psychiatrists — ordered that Barkley be admitted to a psychiatric facility to further evaluate his competency.
District Attorney Matt Van Houten said at the time that while there is no hard and fast rule about how long Barkley will be committed for psychiatric evaluation, the process could take a few months.
James Baker, Barkley’s attorney, said Monday that his client will appear in court on March 17 for a scheduled “court appearance” but declined to say what exactly will happen during the proceeding.
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Barkley worked as a licensed master social worker from September 2008 until May 2016 at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Massena, a town of just more than 10,000 people in St. Lawrence County, located almost four hours away from Ithaca. He was later briefly employed at The Office of Children and Family Services’ Finger Lakes Residential Center.
According to court documents obtained exclusively by The Ithaca Voice through the Freedom of Information Act, Barkley’s mother Linda Edwards called police asking them to do a welfare check on her son on Aug. 27 because she feared he had “severe psychological problems.” Another person police spoke to said Barkley would shoot anyone who went to his home. Police had to use night vision goggles to ascend the hill to Barkley’s home where they were able to convince him to walk toward them unarmed. He was taken into custody and later admitted to the psychiatric ward at Cayuga Medical Center, after which he voluntarily surrendered his handgun to police.
When Van Houten was asked whether Barkley’s previous employment with the New York State Office of Mental Health could mean he’s able to game the system, Van Houten said that anything is possible. But he said it will be up to professionals to make a decision about whether that is playing a role in Barkley’s actions.
Van Houten said, “This case is not over. We believe that the defendant will be determined to be competent by the next level of evaluation, which will take place at a forensic hospital.”