Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson has set a jury trial date of Dec. 2 for Barry Strickland, the man accused in the death of Conway police officer William McGary.
Strickland appeared in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Monday, and the prosecutor’s office reported that a mental evaluation that was completed on Strickland found him fit to proceed. The court ordered the mental evaluation in September after the defense requested it.
A defense motion for a change of venue for trial is still pending before the court. The amount of media attention the case has attracted would make it impossible for an unprejudiced jury to be formed in Faulkner County, according to the motion filed by Strickland’s attorney, Frank Shaw. The prosecution has objected to this motion, saying it is not necessary that jurors be totally ignorant of the case as long as they can set aside any impression they have formed.
Strickland faces charges of first-degree battery and driving while intoxicated after he allegedly struck McGary with his vehicle. McGary was directing traffic at an accident on Dave Ward Drive on Jan. 31, 2013, when the incident occurred. McGary died of his injuries the next day.
If convicted of first-degree battery, a class Y felony, Strickland could face 10 to 40 years or life in prison. Although he has been charged with driving while intoxicated, a toxicology report showed Strickland had no alcohol or non-prescribed drugs in his system at the time of the incident.
Strickland, a two-time Iraq war veteran, did have various prescribed drugs in his system, which Shaw said were legally prescribed to treat his client’s post-traumatic stress disorder.
(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)