KINGMAN – A Colorado City polygamist charged with having sexual relations with an underage girl was acquitted Thursday afternoon in Superior Court after a two-day trial.
A Mohave County jury found Donald Robert Barlow, 50, not guilty of one count of sexual conduct with a minor.
In his opening remarks, Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said that Barlow, who was 43 years old at the time and married to another woman, had sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl in 1999 at his Colorado City home.
Smith said his main evidence is a birth certificate that will show the baby being born Sept. 11, 2000, the mother’s birth date as Oct.11, 1982 and Barlow listed as the father. That puts the victim’s age as 17 at the time of the baby’s birth and barely 17 at the time of the sexual relations, Smith said.
“Sometimes you have to protect the victim from themselves and their families,” Smith said.
Smith said the victim would not testify at the trial because investigators could not locate her. Smith also said the case is not about polygamy or the lifestyle of the secretive polygamist town of Colorado City.
As he did in Kelly Fischer’s trial two months ago, Barlow’s attorney Bruce Griffen argued the question of where the sexual relations took place.
Griffen said there was no physical evidence, no eyewitness or even the complaining victim to come forward and testify.
“The birth certificate only shows where the baby was born, not where the sexual intercourse took place,” Griffen said.
Griffen said in his opening remarks a witness would testify that Barlow was living in Salt lake City in 1999 and 2000 and was not living at the home in question in Colorado City.
“The where question must be answered beyond a reasonable doubt,” Griffen said.
Griffen also sharply criticized Smith for spending the majority of his opening remarks attacking polygamy.
“This case is not about Warren Jeffs,” Griffen said. “This case is about Don Barlow.”
Jeffs, the leader of the polygamist sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Colorado City faces rape charges in Utah.
Jeffs is also charged in Mohave County with five counts of sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.
Griffen said after his client was acquitted that compared to Fischer’s trial he had a witness that placed Barlow and the victim at the Salt Lake City residence during 1999 and 2000.
Griffen said the prosecution could not place the victim at the Colorado City residence, which made a significant difference in the trial’s outcome.
Fischer, 38, was the first codefendant to be tried and convicted of one count of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.
Fischer was sentenced last month to 45 days in county jail and probation.
Six other codefendants, who also belong to the polygamist sect, have upcoming trials in September and October in Mohave County, all represented by Griffen.