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August 02, 2017

Trial delayed (again) for 3 women charged in fatal beating of homeless man

Here's why the case won't start until 2018

Crime Murder Charges
Robert Barnes Diane Barnes/for PhillyVoice

Robert Barnes remained comatose for months after a brutal attack outside an Olney gas station. His family announced his death on Nov. 25, 2015.

Robert Barnes’ family will have to wait until next year for three women charged in connection with the beating death of the homeless man outside an Olney gas station to face trial.

This is the latest delay in the case that garnered national attention when video of the brutal April 7, 2015 attack went viral.

In that video, a group of three adults and three juveniles can be seen beating Barnes with their feet and fists, a hammer and a piece of wood.

While the juveniles were quickly sentenced on assault charges, the charges were upgraded to murder after the 51-year-old Barnes died on November 25, 2015.

He remained comatose for more than seven months after the attack.

The women – Aleathea Gillard, 36; Shareena Joachim, 25; and Kaisha Duggins, 26 – were initially scheduled to face trial in March. That date was pushed back to July 31 as two defendants were hiring experts to claim they weren’t of sound mind on the day of the ultimately fatal attack.

Trial did not start this week, however, as Gilliard brought on a new public defender, and got a doctor to evaluate her. Barnes’ sister Diane told PhillyVoice that the defendant was said not to be taking her medications at a hearing.

While court documents show a pre-trial conference is scheduled for December 15, Diane Barnes said the trial is now scheduled to commence on January 29, 2018.

She isn’t letting all the delays get her down, though.

“I know they’re sitting in prison still,” she said. “Patience can be a good thing sometimes. That’s our hope.”

Last November, the video of the attack again got national attention not for the case itself, but for it being misrepresented as anti-Trump protesters beating a homeless veteran to death. 

The case was neither about politics nor was Barnes a military veteran. The violence reportedly stemmed from a 10-year-old claiming Barnes hit him during an argument about who would pump gas for customers.