ADA – Testimony of Mark Barrett drew heated debate as Special Prosecutor Richard M. Wintory sought to extract information he felt crucial to convince the jury that Gore was the sole perpetrator of the murder of Debra Sue Carter on Dec. 8, 1982. Judge Thomas Landrith sustained several objections by the defense before calling attorneys to the bench in an effort to break the repeat performance.

Barrett, a criminal defense lawyer from Norman, took the stand Friday. He said it was his belief that Ron Williamson, convicted of Carter’s murder in 1988, was destroyed as a result of his incarceration on death row.

“His mental health illness worsened with the torture in prison by guards, denial of medical attention, all of which was the result of him not receiving a fair trial.” Williamson was released in April 1999 when District Attorney William Peterson made good on his word that if DNA tests on the hairs found at the crime scene were not found to be Williamson’s, he would file a motion for the judge to dismiss the case.

Wintory managed to get a concession from Barrett that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals offered the opinion that Williamson’s prior history of mental illness could have made a case for a lesser charge of manslaughter which would not have carried the death sentence.

“I’m pretty tired of hearing in the media that Williamson was exonerated. He was not. The retrial was dismissed. The civil suit that followed was settled out of court. At no time was Williamson declared innocent,” said David D. Smith, attorney defending Gore.

“It went as we expected. There weren’t any surprises.” Monday, the jury is set to hear witnesses for the defense,” said Chris Ross, assistant district attorney.

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