Jury clears suspect in Duquesne killing

Deadlocked on lesser charges

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A jury acquitted a man of killing a 16-year-old in Duquesne two years ago and failed to reach a verdict on remaining charges.

The panel of eight men and four women found Eric Barlow, 23, of Duquesne not guilty on first- and third-degree murder in the death of Daniel Peek.

The panel deliberated about five hours on Monday before reporting to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski that they had reached a decision on the homicide counts but not on the other charges.

He declared a mistrial on the remaining counts, including aggravated assault, conspiracy, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment, after the jurors told him additional time would not change the split.

The prosecution said that Mr. Barlow entered a Duquesne Place apartment building on Jan. 14, 2012, and opened fire into the Peek family apartment. Investigators said 22 shots were fired and say there was more than one gunman, although no one else has been charged.

During his closing, defense attorney Kenneth Haber called what happened at the Peek home “heinous and unspeakable crimes.”

But, he continued, “whoever committed this crime, I submit to you, are people that knew their victim. This crime screams out of a personal nature. Whoever committed this crime had a score to settle.”

Peek’s younger brother, Isaac, who was shot in the attack, testified he had never seen nor heard Mr. Barlow’s name before.

“There’s not one piece of evidence that Eric Barlow ever knew these people or that they knew him,” Mr. Haber said.

The only evidence tying Mr. Barlow to the crime was an eyewitness identification by Isaac, who was about to walk across the hall that afternoon when he said he saw a man in the hallway raise a gun at him and start shooting.

Mr. Haber hammered on the identification in his closing, telling the jurors there is no way Isaac could have focused on the face of his attacker, when the teenager said he saw the person only for 1 to 2 seconds, and that he focused on the gun in the attacker’s hand.

Assistant district attorney Mike Berquist told the jury that Isaac gave a good description.

“Isaac thinks about this every day. He only had a few seconds to see the shooter, but he sees Eric Barlow in his mind’s eye every day.”

Mr. Barlow could be retried on the remaining counts but the district attorney’s office had no comment.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard. First Published January 27, 2014 4:00 PM


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