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Origin of bruises unknown
Barksdale had symptoms of infection, prisons official says

By Holly Hollman
and M.J. Ellington · 340-2445

Farron Barksdale had symptoms of an infection Saturday when prison employees realized he was ill, the spokesman for state prisons said Tuesday.

Spokesman Brian Corbett also said the bruises on Barksdale, who killed two Athens police officers, could be accidental or self-inflicted.

Barksdale’s attorney said state Department of Corrections officials have been tight-lipped about what happened to put his client on life support in Montgomery’s Baptist Medical Center South.

Barksdale has had death threats since his plea bargain for killing two Athens police officers, said attorney Robert Tuten of Huntsville, and now he is in critical condition with welts and bruises on his body.

Heat not only factor

State prison officials considered problems related to heat or a respiratory illness. But DOC’s Corbett said Tuesday that “heat may be a factor but is not the factor.”

Barksdale had a temperature of 103 and was “unresponsive” on his bunk when employees realized he was ill Saturday, Corbett said.

Kilby employees first took Barksdale to the prison infirmary for evaluation and then to the hospital.

In addition to the fever, Barksdale’s white blood cell count was high.

These symptoms indicate “a systemic infection or internal infection,” Corbett said.

He said investigators don’t yet know what caused the bruises, but they could be “accidental or self-inflicted” or related to his medical condition.

DOC’s Investigations and Intelligence Division is investigating.

Limestone County deputies took Barksdale, 32, of Athens from the Limestone jail to Kilby Correctional Facility a week ago. On Saturday, a prison nurse called Limestone’s medical staff and reported that Barksdale appeared to have been severely beaten, Sheriff Mike Blakely said.

Tuten said he is troubled that corrections officials have not kept the family adequately informed.

“We don’t even know if he is brain dead,” Tuten said. “The family got to see him from a distance (Monday) afternoon.”

Tuten said the family was told Barksdale likely wouldn’t live through the night Monday.

“But he still is critical and on life support,” Tuten said Tuesday evening.

Tuten said he did not know who would make the decision to take Barksdale off life support if it came to that.

“I wouldn’t think DOC would have that authority and would have his best interest in mind,” he said. “I would think it would have to be the family, but I honestly don’t know.”

Blakely said video from his jail proves Barksdale was not harmed there, but Department of Corrections officials also contend Barksdale was not assaulted at Kilby.

Tuten said Barksdale had no physical problems while he was at Limestone.

He said his law office did receive anonymous death threat calls when Barksdale was arrested in 2004, more calls after his first court appearances, and then more after his plea bargain.

Barksdale pleaded guilty to five counts of capital murder and two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle.

On Aug. 6, two days before his transport to Kilby, a Limestone jury confirmed his guilt. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Barksdale shot and killed officer Tony Mims and Sgt. Larry Russell on Jan. 2, 2004, at his mother’s Horton Street home with a 7.62 mm assault rifle. Barksdale’s lawyers say he is a paranoid schizophrenic.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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