This week Jurors in the 15th state district court are hearing the kind of case that could strike fear in the heart of any adult whose child uses the internet outside of his or her parent’s view.
Joshua Jeff Barrier is charged with multiple counts of online solicitation of a minor for the purposes of sexual contact or performance. Barrier, through his attorney Rick Dunn, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Grayson County Assistant District Attorney Matt Rolston told jurors that the social media records they would see in the case would speak for themselves and that they would see that Barrier was having clearly inappropriate conversations with people who he should have known were minors.
In some of those conversations, Rolston said Barrier asked the teenage boys to send him photographs of their genitalia and he sent some of them photos of his genitalia. In some instances, Rolston said Barrier promised alcohol or marijuana to entice the teens to comply with his requests which included invitations to his home. He said Barrier was obsessed with getting the teens to take part in a competition in which they would measure their genitalia and compare it to see who was bigger.
The conversations with one 14-year-old were discovered when his mother checked his Facebook page in January of 2017. That teen, Rolston said, had been restricted from using his phone at home and was communicating with Barrier from a school issued computer during school hours.
Dunn asserted that all the records would show was that someone had been communicating with the teens via a Facebook page that had Barrier’s name and photo attached. Dunn said Barrier had used that social media page at a public computer in the Grayson County Law Library and that he left it open when he left the library.
Barrier was found after hours in the Grayson County Law Library in April of 2017. He had been staying in the county office late for a couple of months to use the computers for legal research with the permission of the then county law librarian, who was later fired for allowing Barrier unsupervised access.
Authorities have said some of the contact that Barrier had with the teens involved in the case took place from the law library.
Dunn asserted that no one could prove exactly who typed the words that jurors would see had been exchanged with the teens.
Attempting to combat the state’s assertion that his client was attempting to solicit teens is not Dunn’s only concern in the case. He also has to contend with a client who seems to struggle with the rules of court.
Last year, Barrier’s then attorney Pamela McGraw had asked a jury to declare her client incompetent to stand trial because he reported that he was getting advise in his cell at the Grayson County Jail from former GC DAs Joe Brown and Bob Jarvis. She said she had not been able to have the type of conversations with Barrier that an attorney needs to adequately defend a client against the charges he faces and that Barrier didn’t appear to be able to have those conversations at all.
However, jurors found Barrier competent to stand trial.
Barrier entered the courtroom Tuesday wearing an orange jail jumpsuit rather than the street clothes he had every right to wear.
Judge Jim Fallon asked Barrier about that clothing choice and Barrier said the street clothes he had didn’t match and he had not had time to communicate with his attorney that morning. Fallon allowed Barrier and Dunn about 15 minutes to talk before the trial started, but cautioned Barrier that Dunn had said he had been trying to speak with his client.
But, Barrier had refused the visits. Barrier said he was too sick to talk with the attorney when the attorney wanted to do so.
Barrier had had three attorneys in the more than two years he has been in jail awaiting trial on these and other charges.
In court on Tuesday, Barrier repeatedly spoke out of turn and attempted to disrupt the proceedings. Fallon advised him that he must remain quiet and speak through his attorney or he would be removed from the courtroom.
In addition to the normal court security, Barrier is watched in court by extra jail staff.
One of the teens that Barrier is accused of contacting took the stand Tuesday morning and testified that a man he didn’t know had contacted him on Facebook from a computer the teen had access to at school.
The case continues in the 15th state district court this week.