A judge denied a reduction in bond Tuesday for a man who was charged with second-degree murder in 2017 and who has been jailed since his arrest.
During a motions hearing in state district court, defense attorneys and prosecutors argued over several things surrounding this case including evidence the defense said it had requested but not received from the state.
Joey Julian is accused of murdering Ernest Miller at Mill and Ryan streets in Lake Charles on Nov. 8, 2017.
Todd S. Clemons and Adam Johnson are representing Julian; prosecutors are Cynthia Killingsworth and Jason Brown.
During the hearing before Judge Ronald F. Ware, Johnson told the court that he did not know whether the state was "sitting on exculpatory evidence."
"The state has been deemed to not have complied with their discovery obligation," Johnson said.
Additionally, Johnson said, "We believe it's appropriate to re-consider bond in this case. Our client has already been in jail for two years and it's clear he can't afford the current bond of $210,000. It's time to revisit bond reduction and let him be home for Christmas."
Brown said the state hasn't requested continuances in the case and that the continuances have been requested by the defense.
"The gravity of the offense and the weight of the evidence among other things are criteria for setting bond in cases such as this," Brown said before running down a list of offenses he said had been committed by Julian over the years. Some of the alleged offenses dated back to 2000 and among them were alleged arrests for armed robbery, aggravated burglary, domestic abuse, and attempted first-degree murder.
Clemons said most of the alleged incidents were arrests and not convictions and that some were when the defendant was 18 years old.
"The record is clear that my client acted in self-defense in this case," Clemons said. "The key witness has been inconsistent."
"There is zero evidence of a self-defense claim," Brown responded.
After a lot of back-and-forth between the prosecution and defense over multiple things surrounding the case including bond reduction, Ware noted that Julian reportedly left town immediately after the 2017 incident in which Miller was killed.
"I'm not going to reduce the bond," Ware said.
Shortly after that decision, and speaking outside of the courtroom, Larry Miller Sr., father of the man who was killed in 2017, said he was grateful for the decision.
"I felt some relief today with the denying of the bond," Miller said. "All of this is tearing me up. It's been two years already and it still hasn't gone to trial. My son will never again be with us for the holidays. Losing him has been rough; it's been very rough."
Earlier this month, Ware called it "astounding" that certain evidence was not preserved in this case and he granted a defense motion for discovery sanctions regarding video that was destroyed.
In his ruling handed down last week, Ware said he was granting the motion after an earlier ruling that denied the defense's motion for discovery sanctions.
Julian's attorneys have said video in this case should have been preserved and was not and that when the case goes to trial the jury should be told the videos were destroyed.
Prosecutors have said video is typically only saved as evidence in cases if investigators or prosecutors believe it's relevant, video can't be saved forever, and that evidence in this case was not deliberately destroyed.
"The officers investigating this alleged homicide were given several inconsistent statements from its most critical witness during recorded interviews at the crime scene and at the Lake Charles Police Department," Ware said in his ruling. "When the events upon which this prosecution is based began to unfold, only three people were present — the decedent, the defendant, and the State's key witness, Ms. Tiffany Robinson. They were all within feet of each other when whatever happened, happened."
Ware said in his ruling Robinson gave several recorded "inconsistent statements, some of which were exculpatory."
Julian's trial is set for Dec. 9 in state district court although pending motions surrounding the case will likely delay the trial date.