CLEVELAND - The Eleventh District Court of Appeals has reversed Adrian Barker's murder conviction, sending the case back to Ravenna for a new trial.
In its 59-page ruling, the appeals court said the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on lesser included offenses of assault, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide. However, the appellate court upheld Barker's conviction for tampering with evidence.
On Nov. 14, 2009, Barker, a University of Akron student, and his two friends, Ronald Kelly and Glenn Jefferson, were leaving a frat party at Kent State University when they nearly ran over Christopher Kernich and his two friends walking by.
They all traded words with each other and ended up getting into a physical fight. Prosecutors argued that Barker came running at Kernich, blindsiding him with a blow to his head in the middle of the street. Kernich collapsed to the ground unconscious, cracking his head on the pavement. Kelly continued to kick and stomp him.
Kernich died a few days later from his injuries.
Throughout his trial, Barker maintained his innocence and today his family said the news of a new trial is what they've been praying for since his April 2010 conviction.
"Other than giving birth to Adrian, this is the happiest day of my life," said Barb Barker, Adrian's mother.
Barb Barker got the call from Adrian's attorney at Cleveland's Baker Hostetler Law firm, who took Adrian's case on appeal, when Adrian himself just happened to call from prison. She was able to patch him into the call and share the news.
"There were tears of joy radiating through the phone," she said.
Barker explained her son is holding up well in prison and understands there's a lot more ahead as they prepare for a new trial. She also said he looks forward to having his new day in court.
Barker's new trial date has not been set.