UCA 37, NW State 21. Half

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Attorney speaks on driver accused in police death

Posted: February 11, 2013 - 8:57pm

The man accused in the death of a Conway police officer waived his arraignment hearing Monday in Faulkner County Circuit Court.

Barry Strickland, 31, of Conway, was to appear before the judge and enter a plea, but he waived his first appearance.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. Clawson.

Officer William McGary was directing traffic Jan. 31 on Dave Ward Drive when he was struck by a Jeep driven by Strickland, who was returning home from work early at his railroad job.

McGary succumbed to his injuries on Feb. 1 at a hospital in Little Rock.

Strickland was booked into Faulkner County Jail following the incident and charged with driving while intoxicated and first-degree battery.

He was later released on $150,000 bond.

Local attorney Frank Shaw is serving as defense counsel to Strickland.

On Monday, Shaw said that Strickland is a two-tour decorated war veteran from a third-generation family of sawmill owners. According to Shaw, Strickland entered the National Guard in college and toured in Egypt and Iraq, where he witnessed combat.

As a result, Shaw added, Strickland suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was prescribed “a lot of different medications” to treat his symptoms following his discharge from the military.

Though the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office were “more than accommodating,” during Strickland’s time in jail, Shaw said it was determined it would be difficult to access medication and that given Strickland’s condition, the family posted the hefty bail.

“He has a great, Christian family and Barry is a great young man,” Shaw said. “He’s the best kid you’ve ever seen in jail.”

Outside of jail, Strickland returned to his hometown with his family, Shaw said, where he will remain pending the outcome of a jury trial or plea negotiation.

Choosing to represent a client accused in the death of a hometown hero is not without repercussion.

Shaw admitted that he has “caught some flack” from members in the community for his decision to represent Strickland in court.

“We aren’t disputing the facts in this case,” Shaw said. “We all know what happened. I had worked with Officer McGary in the past and he was a great guy.”

Shaw said he thought about it for “about a week and a half,” and the question became, ‘What is appropriate?’

“You have two heroes that have served — one an officer killed in the line of duty, the other a decorated war veteran who served in a heavy fighting zone and has suffered ever since. So what is appropriate?”

Shaw said though Strickland was indisputably driving under the influence of prescribed medication at the time of the incident, he is confident that it will be determined that Strickland was not under the influence of any illegal drugs. There is no indication, Shaw said, that Strickland was driving drunk at the time of the incident.

The waiving of the arraignment enters an automatic ‘not guilty’ plea; the charge of first-degree battery of an officer carries a more substantial penalty than the charge of negligent homicide, Shaw said.

Strickland will not appear at a bond hearing set for Wednesday morning in circuit court, where the next pretrial hearing will likely be set.

(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net.)

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Igor Rabinowitz
9185
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Igor Rabinowitz 02/12/13 - 09:46 am
9
1
Bad deal all around

Obviously Strickland has issues, and just as obviously a police officer is dead.

Strickland's PTSD was brought up within minutes of the accident, and certainly it explains the "why" of self-medicating, but he took it too far, self-medicating or no, and now someone's dead who didn't deserve to be.

Yet this is a nation of laws, with a constitution which applies the same to everyone, including substance abusing vets. Props to Shaw for being wiling to step up on behalf of the constitution in defending a client who's done such a horrible thing.

krg2
3104
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krg2 02/12/13 - 02:22 pm
3
0
"...Props to Shaw for being

"...Props to Shaw for being wiling to step up on behalf of the constitution in defending a client who's done such a horrible thing."

Amen, igor.

Zheking
2080
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Zheking 02/12/13 - 09:53 am
3
19
I'm confused. I might of

I'm confused. I might of missed it in the other articles, but can someone fill me in on some of the heroic actions of the officer? Other than being a cop.. Did he rescue a drowning baby? Kitten from a burning building?

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 02/12/13 - 09:56 am
11
3
no kittens
Unpublished

He simply DIED trying to keep people from having a serious injury accident.

Thus, saving lives while losing his.

You are definitely confused, to ask a question like that.

BuzzBy
17777
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BuzzBy 02/12/13 - 10:02 am
9
1
I Know You Didn't
Unpublished

I know you didn't go thare
Let the chips fall where they may!!!

Conway Momma
57
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Conway Momma 02/12/13 - 10:15 am
13
1
Are you kidding?

Zheking, I don't normally respond to idiotic posts on here, but your post infuriated me. This officer died serving the public. He put his life at risk to keep other drivers safe. You should be ashamed of your post and the sarcastic questions it contained.

Zheking
2080
Points
Zheking 02/12/13 - 10:37 am
3
15
So if a coal miner died

So if a coal miner died mining coal so that there would be electricity to keep babies warm in the winter, is he a hero?

So if an under water welder died repairing a bridge to keep it from collapsing and protecting the people driving on it. Same question.

So if an insurance adjuster was murdered in New Orleans after Katrina. He was there to help and try to get families who lost everything some money after that happened. Same question.

I'm not questioning what kind of person someone us. Just wondering if a term is just being thrown around or being used loosely? I mean isn't this a place to discuss things (particularly the article)?

Conway Momma
57
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Conway Momma 02/12/13 - 10:41 am
12
2
Not the right place

No, I don't feel this is the correct place to question his being labeled a hero. I feel it's disrespectful to his family and to the community he served.

Go stir the pot somewhere else.

Zheking
2080
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Zheking 02/12/13 - 11:00 am
2
9
Well considering this article

Well considering this article is what is providing that label, and this is the place to discuss the article, I feel this is the correct place to discuss word usage in a said article. (please take a step back and realize I'm not discussing what type of person anyone was. Don't read between the lines so much and take something on the interwebs for what it is...)

Everyone has their own definition of a "hero". Some people consider a parent a hero. Some people say Neil Armstrong. For some people, Brad the door greater at wal-mart is their hero.

i_wonder
27122
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i_wonder 02/12/13 - 11:17 am
8
5
well
Unpublished

In general, most everyone considers POLICE/FIRE/MILITARY heroes.

Now, if you want to expand that (to welders/insurance adjusters/etc), that's fine, but you seem to be implying the 3 I mentioned above aren't heroes.

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