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Philadelphia murder trial held 41 years after shooting

By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A Philadelphia man should be convicted of murder because the police officer he shot in 1966 died from his injuries 41 years later, prosecutors argued on Monday.

William Barnes, who shot officer Walter Barclay during an attempted break-in, injuring his spine, is on trial for murder following Barclay's death in 2007 from an infection that resulted from his injuries.

Barnes, 74, who has already served 16 years in prison for attempted murder in connection with the shooting, rejected an offer to plead guilty to third-degree murder.

Barclay, who was 23 when he was shot, suffered spastic paralysis after the assault, a condition that led to a urinary tract infections that eventually caused his death, said Prosecutor Bridget Kirn.

"It was a slow, painful, miserable march to death," she said. "The law says that if the chain is unbroken, no matter how long it takes, that person is still responsible for that death."

Defense attorney Sam Silver argued that several events in Barclay's life after the shooting cast doubt on the argument of an unbroken chain of causation. These included three car accidents and substandard care that may have exacerbated Barclay's condition.

"There is no unbroken causal chain stretching from 1966 to 2007," countered defense attorney, Silver said.