Angola 5 trial judge to rule on inmate statement

ST. FRANCISVILLE (AP) — The judge presiding over the Angola 5 first-degree murder cases is expected to rule by Friday whether to throw out an inmate's statement against the final defendant facing trial in the slaying of a prison security officer more than 13 years ago.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against inmate Barry Edge in the beating and stabbing death of Louisiana State Penitentiary security Capt. David C. Knapps.

Edge's trial is scheduled to begin May 20 with the selection of a jury in St. Tammany Parish. Trials of four other defendants resulted in two death sentences and two convictions carrying automatic life sentences.

The Advocate reported Judge Jerome M. Winsberg heard several hours of testimony Monday regarding statements that former Angola inmate Richard Domingue gave to Angola investigators and prosecutors.

Domingue claims Edge said he and inmate Jeffrey Cameron Clark were among six inmates who conspired to escape from Angola's Camp D on Dec. 28, 1999, but the group did not intend to kill any security officers.

Domingue said Edge confided that he and Clark decided on their own to kill Knapps when the escape plan began to unravel and Knapps resisted their efforts to take his keys, radio and uniform.

Defense attorneys Steven Lemoine and Nick Trenticosta argue that Domingue is an unreliable witness who is trying to curry favor with Angola officials.

Winsberg gave the attorneys until Thursday to file written arguments on the motion.

The judge also denied a defense motion to quash the indictment against Edge, or prohibit prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, because the length of time between the crime and the indictment, a span of 50 months, prejudiced his defense.

Particularly, a witness who could provide testimony favorable to Edge died several months before the indictments were handed down in March 2004, defense attorney Lemoine said.