In 1958 and at the age of 19, John Henry Barrett became paralyzed after being shot in the neck by a friend following an argument. Nearly sixty years later, a Florida medical examiner deduced that same gunshot is what killed him, ruling Barrett’s death a homicide.
Barrett died on May 13 at the age of 77 due to septic shock, a urinary tract infection and paraplegia, which are all natural causes. Yet, after the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner spoke with Barrett’s sister, she mentioned the shooting.
Despite Barrett’s death being ruled a homicide, double jeopardy prohibits the shooter from being charged. CBS 12 reports the person who shot Barrett was arrested and served time for the crime. During a 1974 interview with the Miami Herald, Barrett told the newspaper that despite being wheelchair bound, the shooting helped him pursue his real passion, which led him to the pulpit.
“If the accident hadn’t happened, I would have spent all of my life as a farm worker,” Barrett said.
Barrett was the pastor at New Macedonia Baptist Church up until his death. Barrett’s great-nephew remembered him for his booming voice.
“His voice was very commanding,” Robert Lee said. “He was handicapped, (but) if you close your eyes and you hear him speak, you wouldn’t know that.”