Barker v. CommonwealthAnnotate this Case
Appellant Adam Barker was found guilty in the circuit court of manslaughter in the second degree. Barker appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in giving a provocation qualifier of the self-defense instruction because there was insufficient evidence to support the instruction. The Supreme Court failed to reach the merits of Barker's argument because the Court found the language of the provocation instruction constituted palpable error in this case. According to Ky. Rev. Stat. 503.060(2), a person forfeits his right to the defense of self-protection when the defendant has the intention of causing death or serious physical injury to the victim and the defendant actually provokes the victim to use physical force. Because the instruction given in this case required the victim, Zachary Scarpellini, or the victim's friend, Shawn Reilly, to have had the intent to cause death or serious injury to Barker, the instruction was fatally flawed as it failed to properly set out the elements of the statute. The Court held that because there was a substantial possibility there would have been a different verdict with a proper instruction, a manifest injustice occurred. The Court reversed Barker's conviction for manslaughter and remanded the case.