Attorneys want indictment tossed in preacher slaying case

Attorneys for Woodrow Karey want a state district court judge to throw out his second indictment.

Karey, 54, is accused of shooting to death 53-year-old Ronald Harris, a pastor, during a revival service Sept. 27. Karey called police to report the shooting, claiming Harris had raped his wife.

When the matter was first put before a grand jury Nov. 14, jurors had the options of choosing second-degree murder or manslaughter, but chose manslaughter. The District Attorney’s Office returned the case to a grand jury on June 26, resulting in a second-degree murder indictment.

The District Attorney’s Office said it returned with new information, but has not revealed what that evidence was.

Attorneys for Karey claim prosecutors broke an agreement when they took the case before a grand jury a second time.

Lawyers Todd Clemons and Adam Johnson said in a motion filed in court Friday that they agreed to present witnesses, including Karey’s wife, at the first grand jury.

“During the meeting, (District Attorney John DeRosier) proposed that this case be presented to the grand jury in an impartial manner,” the motion to quash reads. “He stated that they would allow us to present any witnesses that we desired to testify. We were assured that the case would be presented in an honest and objective manner. This would allow them to decide whether the more appropriate charge was second degree murder or manslaughter.”

The attorneys cited a state Supreme Court ruling, State v. Tanner, in which a defendant agreed to testify before the grand jury as part of a bargain.

“The State in Mr. Karey’s case is not honoring their agreement,” the motion reads. “In exchange for defense counsel’s assistance and cooperation, which included Mrs. Janet Karey agreeing to testify and Mr. Karey’s agreeing to waive spousal privilege ... the State promised to abide by whatever the first grand jury decided.”

Other witnesses and a description of the information of each witness was also provided to the state, according to the motion.

A June 25 email from prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth that said the case would be presented to the “same grand jury” was also submitted in the filing. A different grand jury that heard the case, though, the defense attorneys argue in the motion, evidenced by the fact that different foremen signed the bills.

Karey’s attorneys and prosecutors declined to comment on the matter.