Houck is being assisted in this trial by Deputy DA Tatum Wilson. Brian Monahan and Matt Goodrich represent Holmes. President Judge Michael J Koury, Jr. is trying the case.
What accommodations have been made for Covid?
First, courtroom occupancy is limited to 25. Overflow rooms have been set up in the jury lounge and court administrator's office for members of the public, who mostly consist of family members for Jacob Holmes.
Second, everything is spread out. The jury is scattered throughout the courtroom instead of being squeezed into a jury box. From time to time, Judge Koury will ask if any of them has trouble seeing or hearing what is being said.
Third, everyone entering the courtroom is provided with a clear face mask. This is presumably so that jurors can see the facial expressions on the trial's participants.
Clad in a grey and white prison jumpsuit and orange slippers, Franklin Barndt admits that he initially denied that Holmes was involved in the shooting. But after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, he fingered Holmes as the shooter. He admits to calling Holmes, providing the illegal handgun used and showing him a back door to get into the bar. He also showed Holmes how to convert a T-Shirt into a Ninja mask. He acknowledges that, after the shooting, he tossed the gun into the Delaware River at Wy-Hit-Tuk Park in Williams Tp.
It was a revenge shooting. Miguel Aponte was believed to have been involved in the shooting of Holmes at another bar in 2006, and this was payback.
Houck went through a video that seemed to corroborate the basic details of Barndt's testimony.
On cross, Brian Monahan had no trouble getting Barndt to admit that he had changed his story on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2013 and that he himself had an extensive criminal record.
Barndt denied he had made any deals with anyone and is serving a maximum sentence of 16-42 years for his role in the shooting. He said that even if the DA sent a letter to the parole board seeking clemency, he would still be incarcerated until at least 2029. Barndt at one time had threatened DA Tatum Wilson, and pleaded guilty to terroristic threats.
Houck provided the names of several witnesses who will testify tomorrow and Friday. Apparently, every criminal in the Lehigh Valley worked at one time or another for a tree cutting service (I won't mention the name). Barndt testified that he had removed a tree at Judge Koury's mother's house, and Holmes added a few unsolicited details himself. A deputy sheriff told me that he pulled into his ex-wife's home one day, and numerous of the criminals his office was looking for were at her home, cutting down yet another tree.