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Grand jury indicts second person in 2012 death of man found in trunk; case delayed over jurisdiction

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CLINTON — A grand jury in the Felicianas has indicted a man on first-degree murder in the 2012 killing of a man whose body was found in the trunk of a car in Baton Rouge. There was a yearslong delay in proceedings amid questions over which prosecutors had jurisdiction.

Christopher Harris, 29, was indicted May 6 and arrested this month. A co-defendant, Demarcos Gross, 31, was initially charged 11 years ago, but Louisiana's 1st Circuit Court of Appeals didn't let the case go forward as it was initially charged because it wasn't clear whether Clifton Earl Walker III was killed north or south of the parish line at Slaughter.

The 1st Circuit eventually determined that the main blows that killed Walker were delivered in East Feliciana Parish.

Prosecutors say Walker, 27, was run over and also struck in the head with a hammer. In 2019, after Gross argued that he had been incorrectly charged in East Baton Rouge Parish, the 1st Circuit quashed his second-degree murder indictment. In the intervening years, Gross implicated Harris, said Sam D'Aquilla, the prosecutor for the 20th Judicial District.

According to notes from the case, Walker's body was found in the trunk of a Dodge Challenger behind a business on Evangeline Street in East Baton Rouge Parish. The car had significant front-end damage, plus blood in the front and passenger-side wheel wells.

Walker's body had "extreme blunt trauma" to his upper body and head. Of all his injuries, the coroner said, the trauma to Walker's head and neck would have been the "most fatal."

The 1st Circuit said that Gross, in his fourth interview with police, said he and an individual named "Chris" were in Walker's car near a home in Slaughter when Chris struck Walker in the head with a hammer. After Walker got out of his car, the court said, Chris got in the driver's seat and ran over Walker.

"After 'Chris' struck Walker in the head a few more times with the hammer, the defendant (Gross) said he and 'Chris' put Walker into the trunk," the court said. Gross said he believed Walker was dead by then. Gross led police to an address about 100 yards into East Feliciana Parish.

The court said it was proper to bring charges initially in East Baton Rouge Parish because that was where the body was found, but that once a location was established the case should have been moved to East Feliciana Parish. The state Supreme Court later refused to review the 1st Circuit decision.

East Baton Rouge Parish court records show Harris had been charged as a 15-year-old with armed robbery but was declared incompetent by the juvenile court. He was 17 at the time Walker died.

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