Was justice truly served in Barker trial?

DKS Editors

Before we speak any further, we would like to make note that what happened to Kent State student Christopher Kernich was entirely inexcusable. There is never any reason for anyone to inflict physical anger upon anyone else, especially to the point of death. No matter what the circumstances were for the fight that occurred on Nov. 15, no one’s actions are excusable.

For the past few weeks, defendant Adrian Barker sat before a jury as witnesses and evidence came and went from Judge John Enlow’s courtroom. Some pointed to Barker as clearly guilty, whereas others made his involvement seem a bit more hazy. Barker, a young man who had no criminal background before the incident, had his guilt or innocence debated for days.

The trial swirled on and even the Kent policemen’s testaments started to seem odd. Why would the officers allow Glen Jefferson Jr. to leave the scene without being held for questioning by the department — especially considering that three witnesses claimed Jefferson was involved in the attack.

One witness — who, ironically, is a criminal justice studies major — testified both to police and in court that she saw the attacker, from her view on the lawn of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house, that the man who punched and knocked Kernich to the ground was a white male with dirty blonde hair. Even before Barker was brought back out of the police car for a show-up in front of witnesses, the young woman identified Ronald Kelly and Jefferson as the attackers.

To further confusion, especially concerning the Kent Police Department, the officer who handled the suspects’ clothing (which had blood on it) testified he did not remember if he changed gloves while handling the different men’s clothing.

To top it all off, even considering tons and tons of differing witness accounts and evidence, the jury took a mere two and half hours to decide the ultimate fate of Barker, even with all of the contradictory witness claims and interesting police procedures.

Barker may or may not truly be guilty, and there is a chance we may never know. But after reviewing reports from the trial, it seems like the Kent Police Department may have prevented us from getting as close to the truth of that night as possible. One man accused in the attack may be behind bars for many years or life, and another is only accused of obstruction of justice. Are we sure beyond a reasonable doubt those punishments correspond to their roles in the attack?

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.