CINCINNATI (AP) — A former suburban police official in Ohio will request to be let out on bail Monday as authorities decide whether to retry him in the death of his wife, who was killed during a botched burglary that prosecutors say he staged to scare her into moving.
A hearing was set in Warren County for former Springboro Police Lt. Thomas “Jim” Barton.
His 2005 manslaughter conviction was overturned last year in federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to consider reinstating his conviction, letting stand a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that authorities improperly withheld evidence that could have helped Barton’s defense.
The appeals court also expressed skepticism about the testimony of a key prosecution witness.
Warren County authorities are opposing bail for Barton. They have until September to give him a new trial or free him.
Prosecutors said Barton, 60, hired men to stage a burglary because he wanted to scare his wife, Vickie, into moving from their rural home to Springboro to improve his chances of becoming chief of police in the small city, which is near Dayton. Authorities charged Barton after a cold-case team in 2003 examined his wife’s 1995 death.
He was convicted of complicity to involuntary manslaughter and to aggravated burglary and sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.
The unanimous ruling last year by a 6th Circuit panel said the state’s case relied heavily on a witness who presented an “unsupported, shifting and somewhat fantastical” story at trial, and suppression of evidence made it more difficult for Barton to discredit the state’s theory. No one else was ever charged.