Douglas Barnhill v. Commonwealth—2010-SC-184 (not to be published)
The Court held it was error for the trial court to refuse to instruct on 2d-degree manslaughter. The trial court instructed the jury on intentional murder, wanton murder and reckless homicide. The Court also was troubled by the prosecutor’s histrionics during the trial, including making the defendant lay prone in front of the jury while answering the prosecutor’s questions.
While Barnhill was on the stand, the Commonwealth asked him to
demonstrate how he fell with Kiara. Barnhill demonstrated how he fell and ended up on his stomach, face-down before the jury. The prosecutor ordered Barnhill to remain in this prone position on the floor as he continued questioning him. And, over Barnhill's objection, the Commonwealth was allowed to continue questioning him from his position on the floor. After a second objection, Barnhill was allowed to arise from
the floor. In its closing statement, the Commonwealth stated, "And if defense counsel is upset because I showed his client little or no use for him, it's because I believe the evidence is overwhelming that he clearly beat a child to death. So in my eyes, I treated him the way he should have been treated."
Contributed by Erni Yang