Calaveras County Superior Court

Barrett case nears jury trial

By Jason Cowan, The Union Democrat

A scheduled jury trial nears for a man accused of gunning down three people at a marijuana field near Rail Road Flat in October 2015.

Attorneys met with Judge Timothy Healy Friday at the Superior Court of California, County of Calaveras, to address a number of motions in which both sides sought to prevent certain evidence from being admitted during the trial.

Of the eight or so motions filed, two were addressed Friday. Healy granted a motion by the People of the State of California to prevent anyone to refer to those gunned down as “robbers” and another by Ken Foley, who is representing Jeremiah Barrett, the accused, to call the marijuana site “illegal.”

The court date came more than a year after Barrett drove to his brother Leon Grammer’s medical marijuana farm early on the morning of Oct. 20, 2015.

Robert Daniel Haney, Terry Glen Looney Jr. and Wesley David Smith were shot and killed.

Barrett pleaded not guilty last February to three counts of felony murder in the second degree and denied a number of other accusations. He has been in custody of the Calaveras County Jail on $3.45 million bail since his arrest.

A jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 11 at 9 a.m. to be heard by Healy. All parties will meet the day before to address a number of other motions.

Among the topics likely to be addressed will be a potential change of venue Foley requested. The defense didn’t think Barrett could get a fair trial in Calaveras because of pretrial publicity and bias against marijuana growers, a court document said.

Court documents say the trial will last 20 days. Both the prosecution and defense have filed witness lists that have exceeded 50 people.

As for the jury, 520 individuals have been summoned for the trial. A questionnaire has been devised for potential jurors. Court documents say the questionnaire could take up to two hours to complete.

In a press conference a day after the event, then-Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz said the property owners should have contacted authorities even if they feared retribution and confiscation by personnel.

He said a man cannot kill another to protect property unless they are assaulted or are forced to protect themselves.

The defense argues that Barrett was acting in self defense. According to court documents, Barrett said the three men were threatening to kill him and he could not tell if they were armed. An autopsy revealed the three men were under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident.

The prosecution has asked the judge to exclude evidence of the usage of meth. A ruling on the request could be heard at the trial confirmation conference scheduled Jan. 10.

“The evidence of that conduct is irrelevant, prejudicial and the assumption of time outweighs any probative value,” a court document submitted by the prosecution wrote.

The Union Democrat
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