LOCKPORT – Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas has scheduled a hearing March 6 on the latest attempt by William J. Barnes Jr. to overturn his murder convictions for the shooting deaths of his girlfriend and her lover in 1986.
Monday, Farkas granted a request for a delay in the hearing from Barnes’ attorney, Dominic Saraceno of the county conflict defender’s office, who hadn’t met or talked to Barnes before Monday.
Barnes, 50, is serving 50 years to life in Wende Correctional Facility for the Jan. 7, 1986, shotgun slayings of Irene L. Bucher, 21, formerly of Pendleton, and William R. Moffitt, 35, of Somerset, in Barnes’ apartment on Park Avenue in Lockport.
Barnes, who has made nine previous attempts to win a new trial, claims that his original attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joseph L. Leone Jr., failed to inform him of a plea offer that carried a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that under certain circumstances, failure to inform a defendant of a plea deal can be grounds for canceling a conviction. However, Leone says he told Barnes of the offer and Barnes rejected it.