ITHACA, N.Y. – Jury selection for the trial of a man accused of shooting a person over a year ago in a Wal-mart parking lot was finalized on Thursday morning, but the trial has been postponed until next week due to ‘evidentiary issues.’
Justin Barkley, 39, was accused of fatally shooting William Schumacher and running him over with a vehicle in the Ithaca Wal-mart parking lot on Dec. 8 2016. He is currently set to go to trial for second-degree murder.
Three alternate jurors were chosen Thursday morning, completing the total 12-person jury with four alternates. The prosecution questioned the jury on their general views on major elements in the case; mental health, gun control and regulation, marijuana use and the difference between motive and intent.
Police say Barkley shot Schumacher in the chest with a .30-06 caliber rifle before running him over and fleeing the scene. Records also state Barkley fired a ‘sound shot’ at police officers who chased him to his home, which led to an eight-hour standoff following the incident.
The rifle, a non-assault weapon, are among the least regulated weapons in the state. Matthew Myerson, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a previous interview that New York State does not require a permit or license to purchase a non-assault rifle.
Related: What went wrong? Ithaca Wal-Mart shooter surrendered gun months before homicide; was in a psychiatric ward at CMC
Assistant District Attorney Eliza Filipowski focused on questioning the jury on their views on gun control and regulation, suggesting that this may be an element of the trial when it begins. Filipowski also asked the jury if they would be able to remain unbiased in reviewing a case involving mental health issues – can someone be held accountable for a crime if they are dealing with a mental health issue?
The state of Barkley’s mental health may become a large element of the trial, following disputed views about Barkley’s mental state.
During his arraignment on Dec. 19, 2016, Barkley attempted to plead guilty, admitting that he waited in the parking lot of Wal-mart to kill president-elect at the time – Donald Trump.
“I shot and killed Donald Trump purposely, intentionally and very proudly,” Barkley said. “I went there to purposely shoot and kill him and put him down.”
Barkley’s plea was rejected after Rowley noted that Barkley could not differentiate Schumacher from President Donald Trump. The initial trial for Barkley was postponed pending a mental evaluation of the defendant.
Barkley’s attorney, Peter Dumas, said in a previous hearing that Barkley wanted to make clear that his previous statements were made under ‘mental disease and defect.’
Both Dumas and Filipowski asked the jury to clarify their thoughts on the difference between motive versus intent – an additional issue which may appear during the trial relating to Barkley’s alleged crime.
Opening statements for the trial were set to begin following jury selection on Thursday, but have been postponed due to ‘evidentiary issues,’ said Judge John C. Rowley.
District Attorney Matthew Van Houten said he was not releasing additional information in regards to the evidence at this time, but opening statements are tentatively set to begin in Tompkins County Court either next week on Tuesday at 1 p.m. or Thursday morning. A finalized schedule will be confirmed by Friday afternoon.