Matt Rourke  /  AP
Walter T. Barclay, his image carried by a mourner, was laid to rest on Aug. 23 in King of Prussia, Pa. At left is his sister, Rosalyn Harrison. A coroner ruled Barclay died of an infection that stemmed from a gunshot wound that paralyzed the officer in 1966.
updated 9/4/2007 4:28:51 PM ET 2007-09-04T20:28:51

Four decades after Officer Walter T. Barclay was shot while trying to stop a beauty salon burglary, the gunman who left him paralyzed is being charged with murder, the district attorney said Tuesday.

Barclay died two weeks ago of an infection at age 64. The city's deputy medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, saying it stemmed from the gunshot wound Barclay suffered back in 1966.

"When you set in motion a chain of events, a perpetrator of a crime is responsible for every single thing that follows from that chain of events no matter how distant," District Attorney Lynne Abraham said Tuesday in announcing the murder charge.

The shooter, William Barnes, is now 71. He served a 15-year sentence for attempted murder after the shooting and now works in a supermarket while living at a halfway house.

Abraham said the new charge wasn't filed because Barclay was a police officer or because of any political pressure.

"It's not to please anybody or to make nice on somebody or to do something that somebody wants me to do," the prosecutor said.

Homicide detectives said Barnes was in custody Tuesday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney to speak for him.

Several people who have known Barnes in recent years said he has been trying to atone by publicly discussing his regrets and the lives he ruined.

However, the officer's sister Rosalyn Harrison has said Barnes should serve time for murder, saying her brother had problems for decades after the shooting including pneumonia, bedsores and recurrent infections.

Barclay was a rookie officer when he was shot on Nov. 27, 1966, while trying to stop the burglary of a beauty shop in the city's East Oak Lane section. The shooting left him a paraplegic. He died Aug. 19.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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