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3/3/05 Jury trial is sought on competency of murder defendant

BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Tulsa World (Final Home Edition),
Page A13 of News

Court proceedings in the October 2003 slaying have been riddled with delays. A competency issue has resurfaced for a Tulsan who has spent 16 months in custody without a preliminary hearing on the merits of his murder charge. A court-appointed lawyer for Donnell L. Barker on Wednesday demanded a jury trial on the matter of Barker's competency, an issue that already has prompted delays in proceedings linked to the criminal allegations. A jury trial on the competency issue previously was set for Dec. 9, but no trial resulted when a different defense lawyer withdrew the request. That action prompted a judge to allow the criminal prosecution to proceed. Prosecutors had witnesses prepared to testify Wednesday at a preliminary hearing on Barker's murder and robbery counts. But defense lawyer Kevin Adams -- who in June filed the demand for a trial on the competency issue -- filed a new demand Wednesday for that trial. "I truly believe the guy is incompetent," Adams said. Barker "can't make a rational decision." Special Judge Clancy Smith has scheduled a competency trial for April 6. Any preliminary hearing is again delayed. Assistant District Attorney Julie Doss said prosecutors think Barker is competent and have reports from doctors to support that position. The defendant, also known as Darnell Barker, was arrested Oct. 29, 2003. He has been held in jail without bail, records show. Barker, 24, and Willie Lee Stokes both originally were charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery, linked to the fatal shooting of convenience store worker Manoj Gupta, 24. Gupta was found dead Oct. 28, 2003, at the A&B Food Mart, 6136 N. Cincinnati Ave. Stokes, now 23, pleaded guilty in May to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter and the related robbery count. He received a 30-year prison term. In a document, Stokes acknowledged that he shot and killed Gupta during a robbery. He indicated that Barker went with him to the store for the robbery. In December 2003, Adams first applied for a determination of Barker's competency. A psychologist reported a year ago that Barker was unable to consult with his lawyer and assist in preparing a court defense. Barker's IQ scores "suggest he is not mentally retarded, but instead has a severe learning disability," that report says. A disagreement developed regarding Barker's treatment, and more psychologists evaluated him, reports indicate. Adams said he was going to be a necessary witness when a competency trial was first set. A judge appointed another lawyer, Patrick Adams, to represent Barker at such a trial. The two attorneys are not related. Patrick Adams withdrew the trial request in December when a psychologist indicated that "he would not stand by his report," a filing by Kevin Adams states. Kevin Adams said he resumed his representation of Barker and got another psychologist to assess Barker. That psychologist does not think Barker is competent, and that prompted the new demand for a competency trial.

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