The police officer who pleaded guilty to burglarizing businesses and neighbors intends to appeal his own guilty plea.
Brian Barker, 43, served more than 18 years as a police officer in Edwardsville. But for at least 15 of those years, he burglarized the homes and businesses of strangers and even his neighbors, according to his guilty plea earlier this year.
Now Barker intends to file an appeal, after a motion to reduce his sentence was turned down.
Evidence found in Barker’s home and other locations linked him to a string of burglaries, as well as the burglary-arson of then-state Rep. Dwight Kay’s offices in Edwardsville. Other businesses named among his targets in court documents were Afsaneh’s Alterations, Edible Arrangements, Edison’s Entertainment, Pedegos, Newsong Fellowship Church and Reality Salon and Spa.
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It was a salon burglary that led to Barker’s fall from grace in 2014. Reality Salon owner Cynthia Van Patten had suffered numerous burglaries in her salon, and had installed a motion-activated camera to catch the burglar who never seemed to set off her alarm system, believing it to be an employee.
But the image showed Barker, armed and in uniform, cleaning out her cash register. She testified at Barker’s sentencing that she didn’t know what to do when she saw it — in fact, Barker had often been the officer responding to her calls. “He was the police, and that’s who you call when you have a problem,” she said at the time.
Edwardsville Police Chief Jay Keeven turned the case over to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, and during Barker’s initial four-hour interview with Lt. Kris Tharp, he eventually confessed to the salon burglary.
Police then found “truckloads” of items in Barker’s residence and that of his then-fiancee: auto parts, tools, boxes, a safe full of stolen firearms, boxed mufflers, rare coins, gold bars and two guitars from the church, among other items. Eventually the sheriff’s department had to rent a 10-foot-by-10-foot storage unit to hold all the evidence. Most have since been returned to their owners, police said.
Barker pleaded guilty to six counts of burglary, possession of stolen firearms and official misconduct, and was sentenced in June to 40 years in prison, of which he would have to serve at least 50 percent.
Five months after going to prison, Barker appeared in court again on a motion to reconsider his sentence and a separate motion to vacate the judgment and withdraw his guilty plea. Madison County Circuit Judge Robert Tognarelli denied both motions. Barker then filed a notice to appeal with the 5th District Appellate Court, which was also noted in Madison County Circuit Court.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said he was confident that Barker’s conviction would remain intact upon appeal.
“He was represented by counsel, and his waiver of rights and plea of guilty were knowing and voluntary,” Gibbons said. “No matter what, we will do everything in our power to continue to fight for the many victims and for our community.”
Barker was represented by attorney Bill Lucco at trial, but he will be represented by deputy state defender Ellen Curry for his appeal, according to court documents. Curry said she does not normally discuss cases in the press before the appeal is officially filed.
He had resigned from the police department in the early weeks of the investigation. His pension was to be reallocated among his victims, according to Gibbons.
His now-wife, former dispatcher Keri Knight Barker, was found guilty of two felony counts of obstruction of justice for taking a plastic tub full of cash and gold bars to a friend’s house when the police came to search her house. After Barker posted bail, she took the tub to the police and cooperated with the investigation. She was sentenced to two years’ probation and was fired by the police department.
Clinical psychologist Daniel Cuneo evaluated Barker initially at Lucco’s request, because the suicide risk for a police officer facing prison was extremely high. He then continued therapy for free, testifying that Barker suffers from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, kleptomania and alcoholism. Many of the items Barker stole were never opened or sold, simply categorized and stacked like a warehouse, Cuneo said.
Barker is currently incarcerated at Graham Correctional Center in Hillsboro, Illinois.