Defense doesn't want pictures of gruesome murder scene shown in court
BATON ROUGE - An attorney for a man accused of killing a sex offender who abused his girlfriend submitted motions to prevent photos of the murder scene from being shown at the trial and asking the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office to recuse itself from proceedings.
Jace Crehan, 21 at the time, is charged with 2nd Degree Murder in the death of Robert Noce. His girlfriend, Brittany Monk, 17 at the time faces murder charges too. Noce was found stabbed, strangled and stuffed in a 55-gallon drum in the kitchen of his home in Zachary in July 2015.
In the motion filed Tuesday, the defense alleges "that the use of all of the photographs currently in the State's possession, if introduced into evidence at trial, would constitute 'unfairly prejudicial' evidence, again, due to their gruesome and inflammatory nature."
In common terms: The defense believes the photos would sway a judge or jury in the prosecution's favor, simply because of their graphic nature.
Brittany Monk, 17 at the time, also faces murder charges. Documents obtained by the Investigative Unit last year revealed she was Noce's stepdaughter. In 2012, she reported Noce had raped her over several years. Monk claimed he would often give her sedatives before raping her "almost nightly'.
Noce was charged with rape, but pleaded to a lesser charge of carnal knowledge of a juvenile and was released on a supervised probation weeks before he was killed. Prosecutors have not elaborated on how Noce received that plea deal.
Investigators believe the crime was vigilante justice, with Crehan becoming outraged over what he believed was a light penalty given to Noce for the sex crimes.
A motion filed today also alleges that the Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore and his office should recuse themselves from the case because Assistant District Attorney Leslie Ricard was called as a witness during Grand Jury proceedings.
The defense alleges that the only reason for Ricard to testify would be "to establish that there was a 'proper' prosecution of Robert Noce in order to justify a plea bargain that would allow an Aggravated rapist to be probated, despite repeatedly raping his stepchild."
Hillar Moore released the following statement Thursday:
"The motion to recuse my office is without merit. There is no attorney/client relationship nor is there any grounds for recusal. This motion is simply an attempt to divert attention from the facts of this murder case and attempt to prevent our office from doing justice. My office represents the State of Louisiana and not individuals. We prosecute in the name of the State, not the individual. There is no attorney/client relationship as alleged by her lawyers. The jurisprudence interpreting the recusal articles is very clear. This office shall not be recused unless the entire district attorney's staff is not able to be fair and impartial in the performance of its duties. The test is an objective one as to whether a reasonable person would believe that the district attorney could not be fair and impartial. Even if the recusal would be proper as to one particular assistant district attorney, it does not require the recusal of the district attorney or his office. Here there are no assistant district attorneys or myself who have any personal interest in this matter which would threaten the fair and impartial administration of justice. Our office simply did its job in presenting this matter to the grand jury."
Monk was pregnant at the time of the couple's arrest. She gave birth to the child in jail.