Trial starts in Kent State killing

“The trial is underway of 22-year-old Adrian Barker, a former University of Akron student, for the November murder of Kent State University student Christopher Kernich. 23-year-old Kernich and some friends were walking along East Main Street in Kent after leaving the local EuroGyro Nov.”

The trial is underway of 22-year-old Adrian Barker, a former University of Akron student, for the November murder of Kent State University student Christopher Kernich.

23-year-old Kernich and some friends were walking along East Main Street in Kent after leaving the local EuroGyro Nov. 15 when the car Barker was riding in nearly hit them.

It seemed to come out of nowhere, said Akron Beacon Journal staff writer Ed Meyer, paraphrasing Tyler Martin, a KSU student and close friend of Kernich, who testified Monday.

After angry words were exchanged, the driver, Glenn Jefferson Jr., a UA student at the time, drove across the street to park the car. Jefferson, Barker, and another passenger, Ronald Kelly, also a UA student at the time, then proceeded to walk back to Kernich.

Witness accounts about what happened next differ.

Martin testified Monday that he saw Barker run up from behind Kernich and punch him in the head, said Meyer. However when it came time for the defense to cross-examine, it was revealed that Martin is blind in his left eye, has difficulty seeing at night and is colorblind.

Other witnesses say that Kernich fell to the ground after Kelly hit him.

While Meyer explains that the defense has not yet explained its theory of the case, based on opening statements, the defense is challenging the eyewitness identifications as those have proven to be notoriously unreliable.

Witnesses identified both Barker and Kelly, who are black, on the night of the attack. One witness identified Jefferson, who is white, instead of Barker.

Kent Police Officer Michael Lewis explained during his pretrial testimony April 15 that he thought the witness mistakenly identified a white male in the incident because the light-skinned Barker could appear white next to the dark-skinned Kelly.

Defenses for both Barker and Kelly are questioning how detectives handled the act of identification.

Kent Police engage in what is known as the show up process wherein immediately following an incident witnesses are asked to identify suspects on scene.

The defense argues that because the incident occurred around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, the witnesses’ intoxication levels did not allow for proper identification.

There were also concerns that although Barker and Kelly stood with their arms behind their backs, some witnesses may have seen the restraints around their hands and even seen them exiting the patrol car.

Jefferson, the driver of the car, was only ever been charged with obstructing justice.

Amid accusations of a deal in exchange for his cooperation (which he denies), Jefferson testified against Barker and Kelly Monday, telling the jury he saw them attack Kernich.

Bruce Bassett, an evidence technician with the Kent police, testified Tuesday.

He admitted that officers allowed Jefferson to leave the scene of the attack without taking his shoes as evidence and admitting them to the state lab for testing.

No full explanation was given for this act.

Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation Kent police had no additional comment.

As with any murder trial emotions can run high between those in the audience, however Meyer said it has been quiet so far.

There have been no outbursts, no outward displays of emotion and no warnings from the judge, said Meyer.

The Summit County medical examiner has not testified yet, though, which usually brings out the emotions. Maybe [Wednesday].

Meyer explains the trial has been progressing as scheduled. The trial began April 13 and the judge said it is expected to last two weeks, wherein approximately 100 witnesses for the state will be called.

Students interested in improving the safety of the UA campus to lower the chances of something like this happening can attend Associated Student Government’s one-hour safety walk Thursday.

Participants will meet by the piano in the Student Union at 7:30 p.m.