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Judge denies motion to dismiss charges in Tremonton shooting case

By Mark Shenefelt - | Mar 1, 2023

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BRIGHAM CITY — A judge has rejected a motion in which a man accused of attempted murder contended that he shot two men in self-defense after they rushed him in a dispute over a stolen electric bicycle.

First District Judge Brandon Maynard made the ruling in a Jan. 26 evidentiary hearing, according to a Feb. 21 court filing by the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office.

Richard Matthew Barlow, 25, in addition to the two first-degree felony attempted murder charges, is charged with three counts of felony discharge of a firearm, also first-degree felonies.

On Aug. 31, 2022, Barlow went to a warehouse where he allegedly believed would be a man he suspected of stealing his electronic bicycle. In a confrontation, Barlow shot and critically injured two men, then left.

In charging documents, prosecutors alleged that Barlow initially denied knowing anything about the shootings but he then admitted to shooting the men. Barlow also allegedly admitted, according to the documents, “that the two never rushed at him, did not touch him, and that he did not see any weapon.”

However, in the self-defense motion filed in November by defense attorney Randall Richards, Barlow said he asked the men, “Are you going to give me my stuff back or should I call the cops?” and they rushed him.

“He decided to shoot to protect himself,” the motion said, adding that Barlow shot one man, then the other, then shot the first a second time when that man “came at him again.”

Barlow then “panicked” and went home, the motion said. A short time later, he reportedly decided to go back, and when he saw an ambulance at the warehouse “he knew they would be OK and went home.”

But according to the court filing by the county attorney’s office last week, Maynard determined that the defense failed to demonstrate a “prima facie claim of justification” for the case to be dismissed based on the self-defense argument.

Barlow is scheduled to go on trial March 15.

The attorneys also are grappling over proposed jury instructions. Richards, in a Feb. 16 filing, challenged the constitutionality of an instruction telling jurors that they must find the defendant guilty if they are “firmly convinced” that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

He argued that the “firmly convinced” phrase is “so vague” that it could lead to an innocent defendant being wrongfully convicted.

But Blair Wardle, the Box Elder prosecutor on Barlow’s case, said in a filing Feb. 24 that the instruction is part of Utah’s model jury instructions and that it is a “safe harbor” instruction carrying a presumption of legal validity if a conviction is reviewed on appeal.

Maynard has not yet ruled on the jury instruction dispute.


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