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Barfield serving life term, asks court for new trial

October 11, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

An El Centro man serving a life sentence on attempted murder and attempted rape convictions asked a three-judge appellate panel Wednesday for a new trial.

Randy Eugene Barfield was arrested in October 1999 for the alleged attempted rape and attempted murder of a woman identified in court records as Evelyn P.

The records state Barfield was acquainted with the victim and on the day of the offense agreed to drive her to view a trailer the victim could rent.

Instead, the records state, Barfield drove to an area near the New River, stopped the car and attempted to sexually assault the woman.

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The woman was then returned to the car and Barfield drove in circles. He then stopped the car and forced the woman and her children to the river.

Once there he reportedly cut her throat with a box cutter, then forced the woman and her children into the water. He then, according to records, reportedly threw large pieces of concrete on the victim and her children.

He eventually left the victim hiding in the water.

A jury convicted Barfield a year ago of attempted murder, attempted rape, child abuse and found that he had used a knife as part of the crime.

On Wednesday, San Diego-based attorney Michael Sideman, appointed to represent Barfield, told the justices the prosecution's case against Barfield was unfair based of certain statements used as evidence.

"I think the jury had some problems with the case," Sideman told the justice.

The justices made no decision on the matter, but an action on the appeal could come as early as this week.

Sideman said his client is not asking for the charges to be dropped. He is asking for the conviction to be reversed and for the case to the remanded to the county Superior Court for a new trial.

Outside the courtroom, Sideman told a reporter the case was "fundamentally unfair" because certain statements made by the victim were allowed to be entered as hearsay.

He said the victim was not available to testify and as such statements she made prior to the trial were used as evidence when they would not have been allowed if she had testified.

"He was sandbagged," Sideman said of his client.

El Centro attorney Richard Strickland, who defended Barfield, was present. He said if justices reverse the conviction, there could be a new trial.

He said it would be up the District Attorney's Office to decide whether to pursue another trial.

Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen, who prosecuted the case, was not at Wednesday's appellate court hearing.

Sideman said depending on the justices' decision, the case could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

After the case was heard Wednesday, Presiding Justice Daniel J. Kremer told students from area high schools who had come to see the cases that the justices were not there to weigh the evidence or retry the cases.

"What we are talking about is whether a person got a fair trial," Kremer said, adding the justices are looking at whether mistakes were made in the handling of the cases.

A second criminal case heard by the justices Tuesday involved a man, Francisco Ibarra, convicted of conspiracies to commit robbery, transport cocaine and possess cocaine for sale.

He was found by a local jury of having been involved in the planning and direction or execution of the conspiracies; that the amount of cocaine involved exceeded "4 kilos"; that he had been armed with a gun and his "confederates" had been armed.

Information on his prison sentence was unavailable.

The case involved a plan to rob a drug dealer — actually an undercover agent with the Imperial County Narcotic Task Force — of cocaine.

Ibarra is appealing the conviction on the grounds the prosecution lacked substantial evidence and that certain evidence should have been excluded.

As in the Barfield case, the justices took the appeal under submission. A decision will be made later.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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