Defense claims state withheld evidence

State court Judge Guy Bradberry on Tuesday heard motions filed by defense attorneys for Kevin Daigle, who is accused of fatally shooting trooper Steven Vincent in 2015.

The motions could delay the trial, which is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Defense attorneys said the state didn’t do its due diligence in providing all evidence to the defense. Prosecutors deny the claim.

Defense attorney Kyla Romanach questioned Ramby Cormier, a commander of investigations with the Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office, about evidence the defense sought from a crime Daigle allegedly committed in 2005.

“Do you recall me coming to your office and asking for a file and you telling me that I could go and get the file from Mr. Rick Bryant?” she said.

“Yes, I do,” Cormier said. “I also told you that you could file a public records request.”

Romanach told Cormier that even after she did that, she wasn’t able to get the information. “Did you tell me that I wouldn’t get it if Mr. Bryant didn’t want me to have it?” she said.

Cormier said, “I won’t release a report without the proper paperwork actually being filed and I hadn’t received it back yet.”

Romanach also questioned Danny Sims, Jennings police chief. “Why wasn’t there any action taken on this incident from a case in 2005?” she said.

“At that time, we were investigating the murder of Loretta Chaisson, the first murder in what would eventually become the Jennings Eight (eight unsolved murders of women in Jennings),” said Sims. “Also, around that same time we were hit with Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita and we were without power for weeks.”

Prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth also testified. “Were you involved in collecting criminal activity on the defendant’s past crimes?” said prosecutor Rick Bryant.

“Yes, I was, and I thought we had everything,” Killingsworth said. “I wish we had this information earlier, but we didn’t receive it.”

Killingsworth said she had found several arrests and convictions for Daigle but that she had found nothing on the alleged 2005 crime. Romanach asked Killingsworth if the state should’ve been aware of the information.

“We should have been,” said Killingsworth. “I was shocked to find out about this incident. I thought I had been given everything from the Jeff Davis District Attorney’s Office.”

Romanach, visibly upset, said, “Here we are less than two weeks from a trial and this evidence was going to come out at trial? This is outrageous. The state keeps telling us they have honored their obligations to the defense, but they have not.”

Bryant disagreed, saying, “The state has provided every shred of evidence it has and we have contacted every agency and have done everything we could to assist. Nobody has tried to hide anything. We don’t have a problem with the court reconsidering the Jackson evidence (previous crimes committed by a defendant). We have a lot of information on this defendant and his lengthy criminal history.”

In another matter, the defense sought to exclude or limit victim impact statements in the upcoming trial. Bradberry denied the motion and said he would allow the statements.

Bradberry said he would likely have a decision this week on whether he would reconsider his earlier ruling on Jackson evidence although the defense is also planning to ask the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal to take up the issue of a continuance if needed.

If granted, it would be the third continuance in the case; a previous request for a delay was denied by Bradberry in August.

””

(Special to the American Press)

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