Deputy charged with murder asks if witnesses were hypnotized
BATON ROUGE - One of two Marksville deputy city marshals charged with murder after the shooting and killing of a 6-year-old boy wants state prosecutors to disclose whether any of their witnesses were hypnotized to elicit trial testimony.
In a court filing dated last Friday, the lawyer for Norris Greenhouse Jr. asks if any prosecution witnesses underwent hypnosis or any “truth-determining examinations,” such as polygraph tests or the use of sodium pentothal.
That attorney, George Higgins III, has yet to comment on the filing. The document says that hypnosis has become an increasingly common investigative tool for state law enforcement agencies despite the controversial nature of the technique.
Greenhouse and the other deputy, Derrick Stafford, have pleaded not guilty to second degree murder and attempted second degree murder charges in connection with a shooting that killed Jeremy Mardis and critically wounded the boy’s father, Christopher Few. The incident happened at the end of a police pursuit in Marksville last November. While lawyers have said Few’s testimony concerning how the events of that night played out, it isn’t clear in the court filing if it relates directly to him. Police body cam footage show's the man's empty, raised hands were visible inside the vehicle when officers opened fire. Mardis was buckled into the front seat beside him.
If prosecutors call a witness who was hypnotized, Higgins argues he would have to present expert testimony to dispute the witness' credibility.
"Under hypnosis, an interpretive difficulty arises because of the hypnotized person's extreme suggestibility which enables him to detect meanings in the expert's questions which are unintended and unrecognized by the expert himself," Higgins wrote. "Further, the nature of hypnosis is presently unknown, despite modern research.”
The district judge overseeing the case has yet to rule on the request filed by Higgins. It would require the Attorney General's Office to disclose whether any of its witnesses were hypnotized. The Attorney General’s Office said they cannot comment on the filing as of this time.
During a trial hearing in June, details emerged that indicated Few had amphetamine and benzodiazepines in his system when the deputies opened fire on his vehicle. An attorney for one of the deputies noted that Few has battled drug addiction and severe depression and had just survived a suicide attempt just days before the shooting happened. Lawyers have said Few's state of mind at the time of the shooting will be critical to their defense.