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Barksdale autopsy to become public
Results to be available on convicted cop killer; state will not release inmate's file to family

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

When the autopsy is completed on the admitted killer of two Athens police officers, it will be released to the public, but the state won't release the inmate's file to the family.

On Friday, Alabama's interim Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kenneth S. Snell, who performed the autopsy on Farron Barksdale, said he is waiting on results, such as the toxicology report.

When the autopsy is finished, the findings will become public, he said.

Snell said a preliminary cause of death was sent to the Montgomery coroner, Montgomery district attorney and state Department of Corrections.

The preliminary autopsy states that Barksdale's autopsy was performed Aug. 22. It states that based on the examination and known circumstances of death, that the cause and manner of death are "pending."

Barksdale, 32, died at a Montgomery hospital on Aug. 20 after serving less than two weeks of a life-without-parole sentence for killing two Athens police officers.

Corrections officers found Barksdale unresponsive on his bunk in a single cell at Kilby Correctional Facility on Aug. 11. He had a high fever, symptoms of systemic infection and marks or bruises on his pelvis.

He never regained consciousness, and Barksdale's family asked for the removal of life support.

Huntsville attorney Jake Watson, who is representing the Barksdale family, has written a request for Barksdale's inmate file, which includes incident reports.

Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said Friday that an inmate's file is not public record, but forensics will release the autopsy at its conclusion.

Questions were raised about Barksdale's death when state Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen told The Daily that doctors found marks on Barksdale that they believed were four or five days old.

Found unresponsive

Limestone authorities transported Barksdale from the Limestone County Jail to Kilby on Aug. 8, and Kilby's staff found him unresponsive in his cell on Aug. 11. If the marks were four or five days old, they would have occurred before Barksdale reached Kilby.

Allen's statement prompted Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely to publicly defend his staff.

"Farron Barksdale was fine when he left here," Blakely said. "In fact, we have video of him doing push-ups the night before we transported him."

Blakely said a nurse from Kilby called his medical staff Aug. 8 asking for Barksdale's medications because he was hearing voices and might have to be hospitalized. Blakely said a nurse called again Aug. 11 and said it appeared he had been "severely beaten."

The prison system said it was unaware of any assault.

Watson said Barksdale's family wants to know what led to his death and is considering options to obtain the records.

Barksdale pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty in the Jan. 2, 2004, slaying of Athens police officer Tony Mims, 40, and Sgt. Larry Russell, 42. Barksdale shot the officers from inside his mother's home as they responded to his 911 call.

The defense claimed Barksdale was a paranoid schizophrenic, but doctors determined he was mentally competent to stand trial.

staff writer M.J. Ellington and the associated press contributed to this story

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

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