Judge denies motion for unanimous verdict in murder case

<p class="p1">Although a trial date has not yet been set for a Lake Charles man accused of second-degree murder, defense attorney Andrew Casanave asked a judge Wednesday to allow special jury instructions regarding the eventual verdict when he does go to trial.</p><p class="p1">Devin Jalmal Holefield, 25, was indicted by a grand jury in 2017 in the fatal shooting of Gary O’Brien, 31, on North Simmons Street on July 17, 2017.</p><p class="p1">Police said at the time that attempted robbery appeared to be the motive for the shooting.</p><p class="p1">Holefield fled the area after the shooting, according to authorities, and was arrested in Waco, Texas, a few days after the incident and was extradited here.</p><p class="p1">He has been incarcerated in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on $1.2 million since his arrest. Others were also indicted in connection with the shooting but will be tried separately.</p><p class="p1">Casanave filed a motion asking Judge Clayton Davis to consider special jury instruction that would require the jury to reach a unanimous verdict when Holefield goes to trial on this charge.</p><p class="p1">“The laws of the Jim Crow era need to change,” Casanave said. “If one-sixth of a jury thinks someone isn’t guilty, we think that is reasonable doubt.”</p><p class="p1">Jim Crow law refers to rules that enforced racial segregation in the South between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s.</p><p class="p1">Davis said he didn’t necessarily disagree with Casanave but said, “I’m denying the motion because I have to stay within my role,” adding that decisions regarding unanimous verdicts would have to be made by the Legislature.</p><p class="p1">Louisiana is one of only two states that does not require a unanimous verdict in a trial, with Oregon being the other.</p>

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