US Supreme Court decision forcing dozens of cases to be retried in capital area
BATON ROUGE- Multiple cases, including some high-profile ones that were litigated already, may end up with plea deals.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that jury verdicts must be unanimous to convict someone of a serious crime. Among one of the cases that's now going back through the courts is Jace Crehan's case.
Crehan was convicted in 2017 in the killing of Robert Noce. Noce molested Crehan's girlfriend Brittany Monk and was given probation two weeks before he was killed. The jury that convicted Crehan voted 11 to 1 to convict.
Crehan and Monk previously discussed the high-profile case against Gary Plauche of Baton Rouge, who avoided prison time in the 1980s after killing the man suspected of kidnapping and molesting his son. Plauche shot and killed Jeffrey Doucet during a police escort at the airport after Doucet was arrested out of town.
On Thursday, Crehan appeared in court over ZOOM. His lawyers wanted to know if there were any promises by the DA's office for Monk, and if Monk would testify against him this time. Monk testified against Crehan during his trial in 2017 and agreed to plea deal that ultimately sent her to prison for 35 years for manslaughter.
Monk is not affected by the supreme court's decision since she was not convicted by a jury. However, she is requesting that her sentence be reduced.
"This puts us in a very difficult situation where we are already backlogged with COVID and the flood," District Attorney Hillar Moore said. "Continues to backlog, and now we have to retry cases."
Moore estimates between 12-16 cases will have to be retried in Baton Rouge. In the 23rd JDC, which encompasses Ascension, St. James and Assumption Parishes, there are seven cases. In the 21st JDC, which encompasses Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes there are 10 cases. Numbers of cases that will have to be retried on the west side were not immediately available.
Finding the witnesses to come back and testify will be a daunting task. That could result in deals that are struck to avoid a trial.
"Witnesses we have to find and bring them back have to testify potentially again, so that's another statement they will have to make for cross examination," Moore said. "Just locating witnesses and evidence is going to be difficult."
Crehan currently remains locked up at Angola as he awaits a new trial. His defense lawyers tell WBRZ they have been talking to prosecutors about a resolution to the case, but nothing is firm yet.