The man who was caught surfing the web in the Grayson County Law Library late at night back in 2017 is facing a jury this week in the 15th state District Court.
Those jurors are not deciding whether or not Joshua Barrier, 39, is guilty of the multiple counts of online solicitation of a minor or the multiple counts of drug charges that he faces.
Instead, they are considering Barrier’s mental state. The action in the 15th is being brought by Barrier’s attorney Pamela McGraw who says her client is not mentally stable enough to face trial for his actions.
Her client disagrees, and so does the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office. The jury will have to decide what they think after listening to expert witnesses, jailers, jail medical staff, Barrier’s mother and Barrier himself.
Barrier did not take the stand Tuesday morning, but he did make some statements.
Just a few questions into McGraw’s questioning of her first witness in the case, Barrier interrupted the proceedings by telling Judge Jim Fallon that he (Barrier) had suffered an stroke two nights ago and he needed a continuance in the hearing. While Fallon was trying to get the jury out of the room, Barrier continued to speak growing louder and leaving his chair. At that point court security personnel reached him and began trying to calm him down. Barrier cursed at the witness who was on the stand and called him a liar. Barrier was escorted out of the courtroom.
McGraw told jurors that her client had a brilliant start in life. He was valedictorian of his high school class and graduated with honors from Texas Christian University. However, shortly before graduating, his mother testified Tuesday, he suffered a mental breakdown. While he was able to complete his education, he has never really been able to reach his full potential because he continues to suffer from breakdowns.
She said he has been institutionalized a number of times. The first time, Barrier’s mother had him committed, but he has also checked himself into the hospital.
His attorney told jurors that Barrier fears being committed to the state hospital again and is desperate to be seen as competent to keep that from happening.
Prosecutor Matt Rolston said the only thing that Barrier is pretending to be is crazy. Barrier was declared competent by an independent expert and has shown himself to be so by discussing his case with family members and jail personnel. Rolston said the reason that Barrier’s case has drawn on this long is that Barrier did not get along with his first attorney and fired him.
John Hunter Smith withdrew as his counsel earlier this year.
McGraw solicited testimony that revealed that Barrier has been in an individual inmate cell for more than a year and that he rarely leaves that cell for recreation. McGraw asked Barrier’s mother if she thought that isolation had contributed to her son’s deteriorating mental health, and the mother said she did think it had.
Barrier’s mother said her son talks about hearing voices, but he doesn’t like it to be called that. She said he thinks those people are telling him how to handle his cases and he won’t take the advice given to him by McGraw.
She said he threatened her not to show up and testify about his mental health because the people who were trying to poison him at the Grayson County Jail were after her too. She said she has tried to talk him out of those ideas but he just becomes too upset for them to continue discussing it. She said when he is upset he screams at her on the phone and calls her names.
Grayson County Jail Assistant Jail Administrator Nicki McDonald testified that Barrier was moved into the single occupant cell after a number of the inmates in the pod with him complained about him taking their things, sending out mail in their names and otherwise causing problems.
Rolston asked if Barrier was moved for his protection and she said he was moved because they were afraid “he would get jumped.”
Grayson County court records show that a motion was filed on Oct. 18 to have the courtroom closed for the hearing. Though Tuesday, the public was still allowed admittance in for the trial.
Barrier’s charges stem from back in April of 2017, when the then Grayson County law librarian gave Barrier permission to use the space after hours to work on legal research. Barrier was found in the law library after hours and deputies reviewed the files he had with him. Deputies found a copy of a social security card of another individual and a driver’s license from yet another individual. Neither of which were Barrier.
Barrier was arrested when parents of a Whitesboro teen said he had been exchanging inappropriate messages with their child via computer. Further investigation led officials to think Barrier sent those messages from the Grayson County Law Library.
The law librarian was later fired from her job over the incident.
The case will continue in the 15th state District Court Wednesday.