The Christmas Eve slaying of former professional baseball player John David Barfield was reckless but not deliberate, a Pulaski County jury concluded on Thursday, convicting his killer of manslaughter after about 10 hours of deliberations.
The six women and six men rejected both the first-degree murder charge filed by prosecutors and claims by William Lee “Bill” Goodman of Pine Bluff that he was protecting himself when he fatally shot the 52-year-old Barfield twice in the chest during a struggle on the former Texas Ranger’s backdoor step.
The panel took only about 30 minutes to agree to impose the maximum penalty, 25 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. First-degree murder carries a 10-year minimum with a life sentence possible while second-degree murder, when committed with a gun, ranges from six to 45 years.
Goodman claimed he had to shoot Barfield twice to save himself, telling jurors the pitcher had ambushed him on the raised landing behind Barfield’s apartment and subjected him to a life-or-death struggle.
Defense attorney Matt McKay called on jurors to acquit Goodman, saying the 60-year-old man had been blindsided by the younger and “substantially stronger, substantially larger” Barfield who was both enraged and high on methamphetamine.
“[Goodman] didn’t go over there to kill anybody,” McKay said. “He was slugged in the face by a left-handed professional pitcher. Of course, he feared for his life. He had no choice but to use the gun he always carries.”
McKay repeatedly emphasized Barfield’s former baseball career in his final remarks to jurors, saying the…
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