PHILADELPHIA (CBS/KYW/AP) Walter Barclay, a 23-year-old rookie cop, responded to a burglary call in Nov. 1966 and was shot twice by longtime criminal William Barnes, then 30-years-old.
One of Barnes' bullets pierced Barclay's shoulder and came to rest beside his spine, paralyzing him from the waist down.
In 2005, Barclay, at 64, suffered heart failure brought on by a urinary tract infection. But a medical examiner ruled Barclay's death a homicide, citing four decades of cascading complications from the shooting.
Now, more than 40 years after Barnes pulled the trigger, the 73-year-old man will stand trial for Barclay's murder because prosecutors say the wound that paralyzed the Philadelphia police officer also killed him.
Barnes, however, already served 26 years for attempted murder for shooting Barclay.
In this atypical murder trial getting under way Monday, the focus won't be on the crime itself but on the decades that followed. The key testimony won't come from eyewitnesses but from celebrity pathologists who pored over years of Barclay's medical records.
Common Pleas Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes at a March hearing predicted the case would be a "duel of experts."
Prosecutors will present Michael Baden, host of HBO's "Autopsy" and expert witness on the high-profile cases of O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector and Claus von Bulow.
On the stand for the defense will be Cyril Wecht, whose famous death investigations include Elvis Presley, Anna Nicole Smith and JonBenet Ramsey.
Barnes believes Barclay's death was not a result of the bullets he fired, but rather natural causes.
"They tell me he died of a urinary tract infection. They tell me about people dying in the hospital from infections all the time," he told CBS affiliate KYW in Sept. 2007.