Teen wasn’t told case tossed out

Authorities accused 18-year-old Dominique Barr of trying to kill a police officer just 17 days before Barr’s high school graduation last year.

Another school year has passed since then, yet Barr never earned his diploma. That’s because until last week, he believed he still had an attempted murder case pending against him, his lawyer said, even though prosecutors dropped the charge back in December.

Attorney Steve Davis said he only found out about the dismissal after calling to check the status of the case last week.

“What a beautiful thing it would have been for me to tell the family the case had been dismissed right before Christmas,” Davis said. “I guess I have to be more diligent with the solicitor’s office from here on out.”

Deputy Solicitor Bryan Alfaro, the prosecutor in the case, said Thursday that he thought he had told Davis that the case was dropped. Alfaro sent Davis an email last week, apologizing if he forgot to mention the dismissal. “Our practice is to notify defense attorneys as a courtesy, even though it’s not required,” Alfaro said in an interview Thursday.

Berkeley County sheriff’s deputies accused Barr of shooting off-duty Moncks Corner police officer Shane Judy last year. Judy had been following a man who ran from the scene of a head-on collision at Liberty Hall Road on May 4, 2011, when the man turned and fired a handgun at him.

A bullet ricocheted off the pavement and grazed Judy’s leg. Judy suffered a minor cut to his right calf, and the shooting sparked a manhunt with dozens of officers from several local law enforcement agencies.

Barr’s mother convinced her son to turn himself in after learning that deputies wanted him, but Barr’s lawyer insisted on his client’s innocence from the start. Davis said Barr only turned himself in to clear his name.

Davis said Barr had been at a Kangaroo gas station at the time of the shooting but that someone erased the surveillance tape there. Since then Barr remained out of jail on $30,000 bond, under the condition that he only go to work and school.

Barr submitted to DNA testing. Prosecutors received the DNA report in December and learned that the sample taken from Barr failed to match the evidence collected from inside the car, according to Alfaro.

Alfaro said no witnesses picked Barr in a lineup, and initial descriptions characterized a suspect about 5 inches taller and about 50 pounds heavier than Barr. Prosecutors decided to drop the case. “Now you can’t go back and give that kid what was lost and taken away from him,” Davis said. “We’ve got to do a better job in the judicial system. Cool heads must prevail.”

Davis said Barr thought he was still under house arrest until last week.

Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allyson jbird.