Defense rests in Barker case

Betz Rund & Anthony Holloway

Attorneys are expected to make closing arguments today

Defense attorneys for Adrian Barker called a variety of witnesses today, all of whom gave initial statements that differed from later interviews they gave to the Kent Police.

Defense attorneys for Adrian Barker called a variety of witnesses today, all of whom gave initial statements that differed from later interviews they gave to the Kent Police. 

The defense, who rested today, and the prosecution are expected to make closing arguments around 9:30 a.m. tomorrow in the case of Barker, who is accused of assaulting Kent State student Christopher Kernich, who later died from his injuries. 

Senior crafts major Carl Belfiore, originally stated he saw a black male in a red shirt “square off” with Kernich in the middle of East Main Street and then saw a male in a white shirt blindside Kernich, knocking him to the ground.

“(Kernich and a black male with a red shirt) were fighting and then a white guy with a white baggy shirt ran up and hit the white guy in the head,” Belfiore stated in the written statement he filled out the night of the incident.

Belfiore said he originally identified Barker as the person squaring off with Kernich and Glen Jefferson Jr. as the person who blindsided Kernich.

After seeing Ronald Kelly, he said he told police the night of the incident Kelly was really the one fighting Kernich, and Barker was the one who blind sighted Kernich.

“All I remember is a big white shirt,” Belfiore said in the court today.

He went on to say the person who blindsided Kernich wore a white shirt and had “light to medium brown wavy hair.” 

Barker’s defense attorney, Scott Michael Lear, pressed Belfiore on whether he had made the statement that he believed it was a white male that blindsided Kernich, to which Belfiore said he did make that statement, but changed his identification after talking to police two days after the incident. 

Later, in a second interview with Kent Police Detective Mark Dijerome more than a week after the assault, Belfiore was asked to write beneath the pictures of Barker, Ronald Kelly and Glen Jefferson Jr. describing their involvement in the assault of Christopher Kernich.

Under the photo of Jefferson, Belfiore said he wrote “I have not previously seen this man,” though he had identified Jefferson as the one who blindsided Kernich the night of the incident.

The defense also called Lance Ballard, a friend of Barker.  Ballard testified that Barker’s hand was injured days prior to the incident.  He explained that he and Barker had been at a party where a number of the guests were punching holes into the wall.

Ballard said he didn’t actually see Barker’s fist hit the wall, but he heard the noise it made and saw his hand.  Barker’s hand immediately became puffy and noticed a small amount of blood trickle from his hand.

“It looked pretty mangled,” Ballard said of Barker’s hand after punching the wall.

Ballard also stated that he saw the hole left in the dry wall. Assistant County Prosecutor Tom Buchanan asked Ballard to estimate how high on the wall Barker’s punch landed.

Buchanan also questioned Ballard’s recollection of the day the party took place because Emily Payne, who hosted the party, testified yesterday that the party took place “two to three” days before the assault.

Ballard said the party took place on Nov. 6, nine days before the assault.

Kent City Police Officer Jason Short was also called.  Short explained that the scene of the assault was chaotic when he arrived.

Short said he talked to Kent State students Christopher Pataky and Anthony Gallas at the scene.  Short said Pataky told him he wasn’t sure if he saw a white male in white shirt or a black male in a white shirt stomping on Kernich’s head.

Prosecutor Connie Lewandowski asked Short if he was taking notes that night, and Short responded that he was not.  Lewandowski then questioned the accuracy of Short’s statements and he agreed that he could have misunderstood Pataky’s statements.

The jury was dismissed around noon.  Prosecutors, defense attorneys and Judge John Enlow stayed to discuss jury instructions.

Contact public affairs reporters Betz Rund and Anthony Holloway at [email protected] and [email protected].