A man charged in a 2015 rape case was scheduled to stand trial later this month but instead will stand trial in May after the Greenbrier man's attorney said she needs more time to gather the suspect's Veteran's Administration records.
It's not the first time James Michael Barrett's case has been delayed, and it's not the first time an attorney representing the 34-year-old said they needed more time to consult with an expert witness and also to round up the rape suspect's VA records.
"Mr. [Lynn] Plemmons has been talking about [VA] documents for years," Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson Jr. pointed out Thursday morning after listening to defense attorney Erin Cassinelli and Prosecuting Attorney Carol Crews argue about whether the case should be pushed back again. Plemmons was initially appointed as Barrett's public defender in 2015 but was relieved from the case when Cassinelli took over the case in late October.
Crews said she's never worked a case in which an investigator needed to consult with an expert, referring to the defense tactics now being used in the case and argued strongly against delaying the case of a suspect who recently escaped from the Arkansas State Hospital's care.
"It seems there's no end in sight for this case. Mr. Plemmons talked about VA records years ago [and] Plemmons told this court he was ready for trial. He at least felt comfortable [to go to trial] then," she said.
Cassinelli said she believes Plemmons did the best he could with the resources he had as a public defender but that she is close to getting documents defense attorneys in this case have been striving to get for years. She said witnesses that are crucial to the defense have a scheduling conflict with the January trial date, and said she would have sought them sooner had she been retained as counsel sooner.
Clawson, after considering the request for at least an hour before making a decision, ultimately ruled to move the trial to May.
Barrett, who is accused of raping a close family member, had previously been held in the county jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond but has since been held without bond since his alleged escape from the State Hospital in August.
Both parties are set to meet in court Jan. 23 for a hearing to determine if Barrett's escape from the State Hospital can be used against him during the trial. The Greenbrier man two day trial is set to begin May 16 in Faulkner County Circuit Court.