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Appellate court rejects latest bid by Lockport killer

LOCKPORT – The latest appeal by a Lockport man who killed his girlfriend and her lover in 1986 was rejected unanimously Thursday by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester.

Without comment, the judges turned down a motion from William J. Barnes Jr. for reconsideration of Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon’s decisions in 2013 and 2014 that refused to set aside a 1987 jury verdict convicting Barnes of two counts of second-degree murder, and his sentence of 50 years to life in prison.

Barnes, who has filed multiple appeals over the years, made a variety of claims in his most recent motions. Chief among them was an allegation that his trial lawyers didn’t tell him about a plea offer that would have given him a sentence of 25 years to life. If that had been the sentence, Barnes, now 53, would have been eligible for parole four years ago. Instead, he’s not eligible until 2036. One of the attorneys, Joseph L. Leone Jr., told The Buffalo News in 2012 that Barnes rejected that plea offer before being convicted at trial.

Barnes shot Irene L. Bucher, 21, and William R. Moffitt, 35, to death Jan. 7, 1986, when he caught them having sex in the apartment Bucher and Barnes shared on Park Avenue in Lockport.