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Jury selection underway in trial of alleged Baton Rouge serial killer

5 months 1 week 11 hours ago Tuesday, April 13 2021 Apr 13, 2021 April 13, 2021 5:10 AM April 13, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Jury selection for the trial of a man charged in two 2017 killings and a third, non-fatal shooting is expected to begin Monday, April 12.

Kenneth Gleason, 27, is accused of shooting and killing a homeless man named Bruce Cofield on September 12, 2017 in addition to gunning down Donald Smart, a long-time and well-known employee of Baton Rouge's 'Louie's Cafe,' on September 14. 

He was also arrested in connection with a September 11, 2017 shooting that occurred at the home of the only Black family on his street, Sandy Ridge Drive. 

This shooting, classified as an attempted-murder, did not injure the two men who were home when the shots were fired. 

Authorities say all three shootings may have been racially motivated; in each case, the victims were Black men. 

According to a September 2017 Associated Press report, authorities discovered a copy of one of Adolf Hitler's speeches in Gleason's home during a search. Local media have also reported that a sketch of a swastika was found in Gleason's holding cell in 2017.

In any case, the 27-year-old is not charged with a hate crime. 

Gleason will be tried on a first-degree murder count in the shooting that took Smart's life, and evidence relating to the death of Cofield and the non-fatal shooting on Sandy Ridge Drive will also be introduced into evidence.

Gleason, represented by Ashly Van Earl, is pleading not guilty and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted as charged. 

With jury selection beginning Monday, the trial is expected to last no more than two weeks and State District Judge Beau Higginbotham will preside. 

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