Reports and books abound these days regarding the high numbers of people that are wrongly accused of serious crime under our imperfect system of investigation and prosecution of crime. It is at least gratifying to see that a prosecutor in Louisiana has the integrity to admit when the wrong man has been charged with a crime. Unfortunately, the wrong man in this case spent some nine months in jail and suffered untold anguish under charges of first-degree murder while knowing that he was totally innocent of any involvement in the incident.
The Lafayette Parish District Attorney issued an email statement recently announcing that the man being held for murder was not the shooter and had 'no active involvement' in the shooting incident that took place at a Taco Bell parking lot on July 1, 2012. According to court papers, the 19-year-old was charged with a new crime of obstruction of justice and received a seven-year suspended sentence, along with four years of supervised release. It's unknown when or if police will make another arrest in the killing.
Police had accused the man of jumping into the rear seat of a car after he had shot and killed a male college student in the parking lot. That account was not clarified and would appear to be totally discredited at this point. However, it appears that he may have some knowledge of the incident or was a witness because he has agreed to testify in court when necessary.
In Louisiana, a person charged with a crime that is as serious as murder will require the immediate assistance of experienced criminal defense counsel. Early consultation is highly advisable due to some of the reasons shown in this reported case. An early discussion and investigation of the facts may lead to a quick clarification and even a reversal of the charges. The longer that the charges remain in place, the less likelihood there is of a dismissal. In that respect, the reported case is an exception.
Source: theadvocate.com, "Lafayette man arrested in July shooting released," Billy Gunn, April 3, 2013