Hunter Denied Appeal of Conviction in Accidental Shooting Death

Original Case Details

Back in January of this year, 46-year-old David Michael Barber was sentenced to up to 15 years in Michigan state prison for his conviction of involuntary manslaughter, felony firearm, and trespassing. He was given a minimum sentence of three years in prison by 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power. Barber must serve these three years before he is eligible for parole. Investigators found that Barber had entered onto land owned by the victim while hunting on the first day of deer season. Barber thought he saw a buck about 60 yards away and fired a shot, killing the owner of the land. The victim was found lying over a deer that he was apparently field dressing. Field dressing is a process in which the animal’s internal organs are removed in order to preserve the meat. The big issue in Barber’s case was whether his actions constituted the amount of negligence needed in order to convict Barber of involuntary manslaughter. It doesn’t appear that Barber ever took the position that he did not shoot the gun. The facts that Barber entered onto another’s land and ended up accidentally killing the owner of the land were simply too much for Barber to overcome at trial.

Court of Appeals Decision

In his time since his conviction and sentence, Barber has asked for bond and to be released due to health concerns related to COVID-19. His requests to be released were all denied by the trial court. Barber has attempted to appeal his conviction and sentence and has now also been denied by both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals simply stated that they were “not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed.” The case was first sent to the Michigan Supreme Court to determine if the court will review and hear the case. The Michigan Supreme Court promptly remanded the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals who ultimately denied Barber a review of his case. The Michigan Supreme Court decides which cases it wants to hear as it is a court that makes laws and can determine policy. The trial court is reserved for fact finding, while the Supreme Court as well as Court of Appeals are simply there to review the record if necessary.

What Happens Next?

It now appears that Barber has exhausted his typical appellate options. The only way now for Barber to be released is either through some newly discovered evidence, or from a commutation or pardon given by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It is unlikely at this point that Barber will receive a commutation, as no public discussion has been had about a possible commutation. In all likelihood, Barber will serve the remainder of his minimum three years in a Michigan prison before he meets with the parole board to discuss a potential release. This case underscores the importance of winning your case at trial, and shows the uphill climb that people face once they have been convicted. The appellate process is not designed to overturn jury verdicts. It is designed to review rulings and decisions made during the trial phase of the case to make sure that the defendant was not treated unfairly. If certain circumstances exist, then a verdict in a case can be reversed, or a new trial ordered. In this current case, it appears that Barber has gone as far as he can go with the traditional appellate process.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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