Free Billy Barnes
So, a couple of weeks before I almost died I was on tap to write a cover story for Philadelphia Weekly about William Barnes. You know, the robber dude who shot a cop during a robbery attempt 40-some years ago, only to be charged with homicide after the officer, Walter Barclay, died in 2007.
Now, I'm all about executing cop killers. I think we should do it publicly, actually. But this case got under my skin onaccounta the facts that: 1) Barclay didn't die from the gunshots (unless you believe the M.E. who had to exhume Barclay's body to examine it) and 2) DA Lynne Abraham was seemingly allowing Barnes to die in prison without getting even the unfair trial that she was forcing him to face. I'd traded letters with Barnes and was planning to drive six hours to visit him in the maximum-security pen he called home. Then, I would make the argument that he already did the time for the crime, so the state should let him go.
Well, I had to scale the cover story back, but I wrote about the case in today's Philadelphia Weekly, with the hook that I interviewed all the candidates to replace the retiring Abraham and asked them how they would handle the situation.
Pretty interesting reactions there, so check it out.
1. Congrats to the Weekly for winning a whole bunch of Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Keystone Awards. We, and I, used to take whole slew of these each year at City Paper. (I'm still the reigning weekly columnist of the year until the awards dinner.) I'm sure they would have this year as well, but methinks the bid'ness climate rendered award submissions impossible. Oh well. The ceremony was a bore anyway, unless I was on tap to give a speech after tablemates insisted I had a shot first. Then, you didn't know if you were getting a distinguished writer or a Russell Brand-alike. (The year the Flyers lost in Game 7 to Tampa, it was R.B. up there.)
2. If Eliot "Client 9" Spitzer is afforded the opportunity to make a comeback, shouldn't we embrace Pat "Coke and Hookers" O'Brien as well? I will not be able to rest until Lord P.O'B. is back on top. No pun intended.
3. Nixon and Kissinger enable a genocide? Nah, say it ain't so. Oh, Mr. Khmer Rouge, you're saying it's so? My apologies.
4. Joey learns that the price of the Fumo mansion is a mere $5.5 million! (Psst, hey Vince, other people's money is going to have you thrown out of your converted nunnery. Ironic, innit?)