10th Judicial District Court Judge Desiree Duhon Dyess ruled yesterday, June 8, that accused murderer Hannah Barker is indigent for purposes of receiving state funds for her defense.
Barker’s privately retained counsel argued before the court that she is without funds to defend herself against the charges of principal to first-degree murder of her seven-month old son.
As an indigent, Barker now has access to state funds to pay for experts and other costly expenses related to her defense that she would otherwise have to incur herself. The only exception would be her counsel’s fee for her continued representation.
Although no specifics or sums were mentioned in the hearing, it is expected that the funds could be in the tens of thousands of dollars given the high stakes at play: District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington seeks the death penalty. The brief hearing consisted mostly of questioning one witness about Barker’s financial situation and submitting a handful of documents. The prosecution, which includes DA Harrington, had no objection to the request. The Louisiana Public Defender Board had no objections either.
As reported by the Natchitoches Parish Journal on June 2, the Board is insolvent prompting layoffs and salary cuts to public defenders around the state, so there is no guarantee that the Board will meet its mandate to provide those funds, which could expose the Natchitoches Parish Government to footing the bill.
The trial will begin in October, starting with jury selection in St. Landry Parish.