With his victim dying Sunday, 41 years after being shot, a Pennsylvania man could finally been charged for murder.
William Barnes, 71, already served a sentence after being convicted of attempted murder in the 1966 shooting of 23-year-old police officer Walter T. Barclay.
But when the paralyzed Barclay died Sunday at age 64, a coroner ruled his death a homicide stemming from complications related to the shooting.
That has led authorities to consider a murder charge against Barnes, which experts say would be allowed under Pennsylvania law.
Barclay spent his last five years in a long-term care facility, something he long dreaded and regarded as a personal failure, said Rosalyn Harrison, Barclay's sister. He severed contact with friends because he did not want them to see him in that kind of setting, Harrison said.
She wants Barnes, a lifelong criminal, to go to prison for murder.
"I am bitter toward him; I can't get rid of that," she said. "My brother died from that gunshot wound. Every problem he had, they were all related to his paralysis from being shot."
Barnes, who is now out of prison, was being questioned by police late Tuesday. He could not be reached for comment. The district attorney's office would only say the case would be fully reviewed before any decision is made about additional charges.
"A lot of guys blame their parents, blame society. For me, it was just a lack of morals, a lack of conscience," Barnes recently told a weekly newspaper, The City Paper, about his time in prison. "I didn't like to work, and I liked to steal. I wanted nice clothes and a nice car. I knew that women liked money, so I acquired it. I got caught. I went to prison."
He added, "I don't kid myself that society is going to forgive me for anything."
Barclay died thinking his shooter had died years ago from liver disease, Harrison said. She only learned Barnes was still alive when she saw TV reports Tuesday about the possible murder charge.
Another shock: The supermarket where he worked was in her neighborhood.
"They showed his picture, with the white hair," she said. "I thought, 'Oh my God, this is the man who collects the shopping carts.' I recognized him right away."