CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued an opinion, Wednesday, in a 1990 Preston County murder case, sending it back to the circuit court.

Richard Knotts, 61, was convicted, in 1990, of first degree murder, in the death of Robert Barlow, and sentenced to life in prison without mercy.

Barlow was stabbed more than 30 times, shot four times and hit in the head with a blunt object, along a roadside, in the Tunnelton area.

Investigators pointed to Barlow’s relationship with Knotts’ brother’s ex-wife as the motive in the case.

Since his conviction, Knotts has filed several appeals, including a writ of habeas corpus with the Preston County Circuit Court, in 2007. In that appeal, Knotts questioned the blood analysis that was presented during his trial.

In 2008, the circuit court ruled that Knotts could hire experts to look into his claims. After years of delays and analysis, hearings were held in the circuit court in October 2019 and January 2020.

During the hearings, an expert for Knotts testified that he found “numerous deviations in professional standards,” in the original blood analysis.

Richard Knotts

Despite that, in August 2020, the circuit court denied Knotts request for the writ of habeas corpus.

Knotts then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. In Wednesday’s decision, justices explained that the circuit court did follow the guidelines that it has set forth for courts to use when considering blood analysis as it relates to writs of habeas corpus. The justices sent the habeas corpus appeal back to the circuit court. You can read the Supreme Court’s full decision here.

Meanwhile, Knotts remains in the Mount Olive Correctional Center. He has been in the state prison system since 1991.