Matt Purple and I have followed the story of Daisy Coleman and her charged assailant, Matthew Barnett, in Maryville, Missouri, over the past week. Several events have occurred since I wrote my original post.
First, the International Business Times published this fact sheet on Barnett on October 19. The former high school football player now attends the University of Central Missouri, and still claims that the sex with 14-year-old Coleman was consensual.
Also, unsurprisingly, Barnett's parents claim his innocence:
During an interview with the MailOnline, school teacher Shirley Barnett supported her son, saying he is innocent and the truth will eventually come to light. “The more you dig, you will get closer to the truth. It is not on the surface, you’re going to have to dig for it, and unfortunately we can’t help with that because that is not our personality.” And his father Tommy Barnett added that his son is being unfairly targeted. "There are hundreds of cases across the nation. My kid is being assassinated. The way this has all been spun, for example, my son being a football star, he was not a football star, he was a back-up."
While the status of the attacker's stardom is irrelevant, the public should be wary of certain media outlets attempting to link this case to Steubenville. These are two different crimes with distinctive actors.
Second, a judge has appointed a new prosecutor to investigate the crime thoroughly. Attorney Jean Peters Baker has no ties with the town of Maryville, allowing a fair investigation to take place.
Anonymous and the state of Missouri should be praised for pursuing justice in this case; however this is when the public must allow the criminal justice system to function. Though it may have failed at the beginning of this case, possibly through prosecutorial indiscretion, a proper trial can now occur.
Anonymous organized a rally today to support Coleman. That's fine, but concerned citizens must not decide guilt based upon media reports and talking heads, much as many did in the Trayvon Martin case. Instead, we must humble ourselves to prevent emotion from subverting reason.
To even write those words seems like a fool's errand, but it's important to defer to the justice system for the maintenance of order. Twitter is no sphere for the deliberations of prosecution and defense.
The courtroom is.
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