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Barksdale autopsy: No foul play
Family's attorney says questions still unanswered in cop killer's death in prison

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

MONTGOMERY — Farron Barksdale died from natural causes, according to his autopsy, but an attorney for the family said questions still are unanswered.

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen said he received the final autopsy report on Barksdale on Friday.

Barksdale, who was serving life without parole for killing Athens police officer Tony Mims and Sgt. Larry Russell in 2004, died of complications from bronchopneumonia with contributory factors of hyperthermia, an abnormally high body temperature, and coagulopathy, a blood clotting disorder.

There was no evidence of external or internal trauma, a DOC press release stated.

Limestone County authorities transferred Barksdale, 32, to Kilby Correctional Facility on Aug. 8. Four days later the staff found him unresponsive in his cell and transported him to Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery. He died 10 days later when the family opted to remove him from life support.

"A forensic pathologist, hired by attorneys representing the Barksdale family, observed his medical care while in the hospital, and the pathologist was also present during the autopsy," Allen said.

"I am pleased to see that these findings are consistent with our own internal investigation. Because of the unique circumstances surrounding this case, I asked the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent investigation, and we have not yet received their report."

Barksdale's mother and the Southern Center for Human Rights have filed an open records act lawsuit against Allen in Montgomery County Circuit Court, saying the DOC has repeatedly denied their requests for Barksdale's inmate records and records relating to his death in prison.

DOC spokesman Brian Corbett has told The Daily those records are confidential and not public record.

The DOC recently filed for the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Jake Watson, the attorney representing Barksdale's mother, Mary Barksdale, said he is working on his response to that motion.

Watson said he did not know about the autopsy results until the media started calling him Friday.

"I can't believe DOC does not have enough class to notify lawyers of family," he said. "I haven't read it yet, but I understand it says there was no external damage. Our expert who observed the autopsy saw photos that depicted serious bruising on Barksdale's body, but DOC is refusing to release to us those photographs."

Allen told The Daily after Barksdale was admitted to the hospital that he had bruises that appeared four or five days old. That time frame would have put the injuries occurring while Barksdale was at Limestone. Sheriff Mike Blakely responded that he has videotape showing Barksdale doing push-ups and that during the intake process at Kilby, no one noted any injuries on Barksdale.

"Farron Barksdale was in Sheriff Blakely's custody for three years, and with the exception of colds and things of that nature, he was in good health physically. Then he's in custody with DOC for less than three days and found unresponsive, and he's dead a week later,'' said Watson.

Watson said the medical intake records do not note any health problems.

"I question why they aren't disclosing the underlying facts that led to their conclusions," Watson said. "Since Farron Barksdale went into the hospital, the DOC has refused to answer any question as to what their investigation has revealed, and is saying we're not entitled to certain things. Those are Gestapo tactics and not the American way. It's the government for the government and not the government for the people."

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