Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    5,952

    Rogers LaCaze - Louisiana Death Row


    Cuong Vu, 21, Ha Vu, 17, and Police Officer Ronald Williams, Jr., 25


    Rogers LaCaze


    Summary of Offense:

    Was convicted of killing Cuong Vu, Ha Vu and New Orleans police officer Ronald Williams inside a New Orleans East restaurant in 1995. LaCaze's accomplice was New Orleans police officer Antoinette Frank. She was also sentenced to death.

    For more on Antoinette Frank, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...toinette+frank

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    5,952
    June 23, 2008

    Rogers LaCaze was convicted of killing a New Orleans police officer and two others inside a New Orleans East restaurant in 1995, murders that brought the crime problem to a boiling point more than 15 years ago.


    Monday, an Orleans Parish judge gave LaCaze’s attorneys 139 days to exhaust all legal maneuvers to stop the convicted killer’s execution, a similar move to what happened with Lacaze’s co-defendant, former police officer Antoinette Frank.

    Judge Frank Marullo said he’s trying to get the case wrapped up speedily as possible, as he said he is required to do by law.

    Frank and LaCaze were both convicted of the 1995 triple murder at a Vietnamese restaurant.

    Both have exhausted their appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now Marullo is putting a time limit on how long they have to file what’s called post-conviction relief.

    It’s one last legal maneuver to avoid the death sentences that juries have handed down.

    “It's absolutely ridiculous that it should take fifteen or more years to get through the process,” said Ron Williams, the murder victim's father. “Post-conviction review seems ridiculous. He's had fifteen years of appeals already and we certainly don't need another one.”

    LaCaze’s mother, however, feels differently.

    “Rogers hasn't had counsel for the past six years and that isn't fair,” Alice Chaney said. “Rogers is an innocent man and I say that because I'm his mother. I know he is innocent. We have enough evidence to blow this court apart."

    Marullo also was scheduled to sign the death warrant for a man convicted of capital murder I another case.

    Legal questions involving Juan Smith’s case caused Marullo to schedule two more hearings on it this week before setting a similar deadline for defense attorneys in that double murder case.

    (Source: AP)

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    5,952
    May 12, 2010

    Louisiana Supreme Court hears arguments in Kim Anh killer's appeal


    Attorneys for a man on death row for the 1995 triple murders at the Kim Anh restaurant in eastern New Orleans asked the Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday to grant a hearing at which they will call to the witness stand the Orleans Parish judge who presided over the capital murder trial in 1995.

    Rogers LaCaze, 33, is in the post-conviction phase of his appeal of the jury verdict and death sentence as punishment for the triple murder that separate juries concluded were committed by him and rookie cop Antoinette Frank.

    Frank and LaCaze both want Judge Frank Marullo replaced as the presiding judge over their separate appeals, calling him biased and accusing him of trying to hide evidence from the juries in 1995.

    "We don't know if that's true," capital appeals attorney Sarah Ottinger said before the justices Tuesday. "That would be the purpose of an evidentiary hearing."

    Judge Laurie White last fall granted an evidentiary hearing that would allow LaCaze's defense team to call Marullo to the stand. Prosecutors say the defense has no right to have such a hearing, and that the judge has already said on the record that he doesn't remember signing the 15-year-old order.

    "The judge's recollection in 1995 is probably more accurate than his recollection 15 years later," said Assistant District Attorney Alyson Graugnard. "He did not remember whether he signed the order for Antoinette Frank to gain a firearm. How LaCaze's co-defendant came to possess a gun is irrelevant. This is a red herring."

    Witnesses placed LaCaze at the Kim Anh restaurant the night of the murders.

    At issue is whether the LaCaze jury should have heard that Marullo may have signed a court order six months before the Kim Anh bloodbath that allowed then-officer Frank to take possession of a 9-mm handgun -- the caliber used to kill fellow officer Ronald Williams, Cuong Vu and Ha Vu during a robbery at the eastern New Orleans restaurant.

    The handgun used in the murders was never found, but the victims were all shot with 9-mm rounds. At least one justice said it isn't relevant whether LaCaze knew where Frank got the murder weapon.

    "That's not the only 9 millimeter gun in the world," said Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll. "Even if it's the same gun, how do you establish that she didn't give it to him? She got the gun. What's the big mystery?"

    District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's team Tuesday argued that there is no factual basis for any hearing over Marullo's 15-year memory of the court order he may have signed over a 9-mm gun used in an unrelated crime.

    Marullo has said that he isn't certain whether he signed that particular order involving Frank and a 9-mm gun. The Frank jury heard all about the order, as prosecutors argued that she certainly had had access to a 9-mm weapon.

    NOPD issued Frank a .38-caliber gun along with her shield.

    But weeks before the Kim Anh murders, Frank reported a 9-mm gun as stolen.

    In 1995, it was standard practice at Criminal District Court for judges to sign over guns used in crimes from the NOPD evidence room to police officers.

    The justices didn't indicate when they will rule on the LaCaze matter. The only issue at hand Tuesday was whether a hearing is needed to clear up the 9-mm gun court order, but the justices heard an argument from the defense team that LaCaze received poor representation at trial by Willie Turk, who had never handled a death penalty case and had only three months in which to prepare.

    "Rogers LaCaze was an 18-year-old defendant charged in a brutal triple homicide," said Ottinger, director of the Capital Appeals Project. "He didn't get to tell the jury that Antoinette Frank possessed a 9-millimeter."

    Justice Bernette Johnson pointed out that at first, Marullo denied having signed the 9-mm order, and that there are questions as to whether his signature on the order had been forged.

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/...argumen_1.html

  4. #4
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,109
    Louisiana Death Row Inmate Sues DOJ Over Access to Records



    A death row inmate is suing the U.S. Justice Department with the hope of acquiring documents that he claims will help prove his innocence in a shooting that left a police officer and two others dead in 1995 in New Orleans.

    Lawyers for the inmate, Rogers Lacaze, contend in the lawsuit the federal government has background information about the actual accomplice in the shooting. The Justice Department, according to the suit in Washington federal district court, will neither confirm nor deny the existence of any FBI records.

    A team from the law firm Miller & Chevalier, on behalf of the lawyer who represents Lacaze, filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act on November 8. The complaint alleges the public value of the documents—which Lacaze's attorneys said could help exonerate him—outweigh any privacy interest in the information.

    Lacaze was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder in a shooting at a restaurant that killed New Orleans police officer Ronald Williams. Lacaze, who was 18 at the time of the triple-homicide, has been on death row since 1995. He maintains his innocence.

    Lacaze and Antoinette Frank, a New Orleans police officer, were arrested hours after the shooting. Frank and Williams, the officer who was killed, worked off-duty security at the restaurant. Prosecutors alleged Frank and Lacaze robbed the restaurant and participated in the shooting.

    Lacaze's attorney, Blythe Taplin, is seeking any federal documents about Frank's brother, Adam Frank Jr., who is currently serving time in Louisiana now on an unrelated robbery charge. The request for records includes any communication between state or local officials and the FBI concerning Adam Frank.

    In March, the FBI responded to Lacaze's records request by declining to confirm or deny the existence of any documents about Adam Frank.

    The government, according to Lacaze's attorneys, also said it would refuse to release any papers without “express authorization and consent of the third party, proof that the subject of your request is deceased, or a clear demonstration that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the personal privacy interest and that significant public benefit would result from the disclosure of the requested records.”

    Lacaze's lawyers said in an administrative challenge of the records request denial that the public's "compelling interest in knowing whether the FBI is refusing to disclose information that could help exonerate" a death row inmate are greater than any privacy Adam Frank has in keeping records confidential.

    Taplin of the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans said that prosecutors, at trial, didn't offer up any physical evidence—including the murder weapon—linking Lacaze to the scene of the shooting.

    "The jury based its verdict on three questionable identifications and a coerced confession from Mr. Lacaze," the Miller & Chevalier attorneys, including partners Mary Lou Soller and Mark Rochon, said in the suit filed last week in Washington.

    Antoinette Frank, the officer, was also convicted at a separate trial. She is on death row in Louisiana.

    Three years after Lacaze was convicted, Adam Frank was arrested in Louisiana. "Reports from Mr. Frank’s arrest reveal that he was originally stopped because witnesses had heard him 'bragging about killing a New Orleans Police officer,'" Lacaze's attorneys said in their FOIA suit.

    Adam Frank escaped custody but was recaptured a month later, Lacaze's lawyers said in the lawsuit. The authorities recovered a pistol from Adam Frank that matched the caliber and model of the weapon that state prosecutors alleged had been used in the shooting at the New Orleans restaurant.

    The serial number on the pistol was partially rubbed off, Lacaze's lawyers said. Part of the serial number matched the number of the murder weapon.

    Lacaze has post-conviction proceedings pending in New Orleans state court. In those proceedings, his lawyers argue prosecutors unfairly held onto information that would have aided his defense.

    http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/20...o-records.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  5. #5
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,109
    In death row inmate's case, charges of prosecutorial misconduct ring eerily similar

    One of New Orleans' most notorious murder cases has crept back into the criminal courthouse, with charges of misconduct by former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick's office that ring eerily familiar. Rogers Lacaze, who was sent to death row along with NOPD rookie Antoinette Frank for killing a cop and two others in a 1995 massacre that stunned the city, sat in orange jail scrubs and thick-rimmed glasses Thursday as his lawyers pressed their case to overturn his conviction.

    Their claims: That the state failed to disclose an early statement by a key witness to the murders, denying he got a look at the second suspect; that it failed to reveal evidence that Frank's brother, who was later found with the suspected murder weapon, was an active suspect; and that Lacaze's trial attorney, Willie Turk, completely botched the case.

    Among the hurdles for Lacaze: Turk died in 2006, and current District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office is fighting tooth-and-nail to keep from being forced to dig up old evidence in a 17-year-old case.

    On the other side of the courtroom from Lacaze, relatives of slain NOPD officer Ronald "Ronnie" Williams II sat quietly as Assistant District Attorney Andrew Pickett argued that, without Turk alive to testify, attempts to prove his incompetence would prove fruitless.

    Williams, 25, and siblings Cuong Vu, 17, and Ha Vu, 24, were gunned down with a 9 mm handgun in a bloody scene during a March 4, 1995, robbery at Kim Anh restaurant in eastern New Orleans. First Lacaze, then Frank -- the most recent New Orleans convict to sit on death row - were convicted in separate first-degree murder trials.

    According to Lacaze's lawyers, the jurors who convicted him never heard that Frank had secured the suspected murder weapon through a court order that appeared to have been signed by Criminal District Judge Frank Marullo. That information only came up at Frank's trial. It is unclear whether Marullo himself actually provided the signature on the document, and Marullo has since recused himself from Lacaze's post-conviction appeal, leaving it to retired 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Michael Kirby.

    After a hearing Thursday, Kirby postponed a decision on a pair of motions filed by Lacaze's lawyers, including one that seeks any other exculpatory evidence that Cannizzaro's office can muster.

    On their own, the attorneys say, they've found plenty. Among the most compelling, they say, is evidence that the state withheld a key eyewitness' statement that it was Frank, not Lacaze, who shot everyone in the restaurant. At his trial, Lacaze was portrayed as the shooter of all the victims.

    Lacaze's attorneys see clear similarities to the case of New Orleans murder defendant Juan Smith, who was granted a new trial in January after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that Orleans Parish prosecutors violated Smith's constitutional rights by withholding early, conflicting statements from the lone eyewitness to a quintuple murder inside a home on North Roman Street, also in 1995.

    In that case, several justices mocked Cannizzaro's office for even trying to defend Smith's conviction, roundly rejecting New Orleans prosecutors' argument that a witness' conflicting statements weren't "material."

    In Lacaze's case, the undisclosed statements were from another Vu sibling, Quoc, who hid in the restaurant cooler while Cuong Vu, Ha Vu and Williams were shot.

    An officer interviewing Quoc Vu soon after the triple-murder asked him, "Did you see the persons who (were) doing the (shooting)?" Quoc Vu, according to filings, replied, "Yes, uh ... I saw the partial side of her."

    Additionally, in a supplemental police report, an NOPD detective wrote that Quoc Vu indicated to police that "he observed Antoinette Frank, partially from the side, shooting a gun in the kitchen area."

    Neither Quoc Vu's statement nor the supplemental police report was given to Turk at Lacaze's trial, his lawyers say.

    Filings do show that Quoc Vu in the same statement said a man committed the shooting, a fact he repeated one more time "at police suggestion." However, it is plain that Quoc Vu also said he saw Antoinette Frank firing away, Lacaze's lawyers argue.

    Another key witness and Vu sibling, Chau, who was hiding with Quoc in the cooler on the night of the killings, also gave a statement to police. In it, she did not identify Lacaze, nor did she mention a man being present when the murders occurred. That wasn't disclosed to Turk either, Lacaze's lawyers with the Capital Appeals Project write in court filings.

    The Capital Appeals Project says the statements "were both exculpatory and impeachment evidence," requiring pre-trial disclosure under Brady v. Maryland, the 1963 Supreme Court decision that said the government must turn over all evidence favorable to the defense.

    Attorneys say it was long after the trial when they uncovered evidence about how Frank got hold of the murder weapon. They are pushing to force Cannizzaro's office to turn over any other evidence, arguing that the state's obligation under Brady extends past the conviction. "The state has a duty to see that justice is done, not just to win," argued Blythe Taplin, one of Lacaze's lawyers.

    Pickett argued that the ex-cop's attorneys were asking too much. "The state simply does not have an obligation to re-investigate the entire case," he said.

    An alternate suspect

    Frank had been Williams' partner, and they both often provided security at the restaurant. Lacaze and Frank were friends and had eaten dinner at the restaurant earlier on the evening of the murders. At one point, he confessed to being at the restaurant while Frank gunned down Williams, Cuong Vu and Ha Vu. But he later said police coerced and beat the admission out of him.

    His lawyers say they've uncovered evidence suggesting Frank's brother, Adam, may have actually been his sister's accomplice the night of the slayings at Kim Anh, and that investigators indeed considered him a suspect at one point.

    After the robbery, Adam Frank moved to northeastern Louisiana and lived under the name "Keith Jackson."

    According to signed affidavits from people who knew him as Keith Jackson, Adam Frank would often say he was an NOPD officer. He had a police I.D., a uniform and a scanner. He only left his house after dark and with his scanner, and he routinely wore a bulletproof vest.

    The affidavits say Jackson "had come into some money" and acted "really paranoid." They mention rumors that he was "hiding evidence after a crime with his sister in New Orleans."

    Among the items stolen from Kim Anh were $10,000 in cash and Williams' service revolver, which were not found on Lacaze or Antoinette Frank.

    In 1998, Adam Frank was arrested in Rayville. Authorities originally stopped him because a confidential informant reported hearing him "bragging about killing a New Orleans police officer," Lacaze's filings say.

    It took four officers to subdue and cuff Adam Frank. When police searched his car, they found handguns, a rifle, bullets, a dagger, a black ski mask, gloves, $1,300 in cash, and money orders payable to Antoinette Frank.

    The day following his arrest, Adam Frank reported being sick, and while being taken to the hospital in a police car, he kicked the front seat, put the officer driving the car in a headlock and caused the cruiser to crash into a tree, filings say.

    Adam Frank escaped but was recaptured within about a month. When he was caught, he was carrying a 9mm Beretta Model 92G, "the same caliber, make and model as the weapon that ... the state alleged was used to commit the 1995 murders," his lawyers write.

    The serial number on the pistol Adam Frank had was rubbed off, but crime lab personnel managed to recover part of it. The part that was recovered matched the serial number on the weapon police allege was used at Kim Anh, Lacaze's filings say.

    That gun was destroyed before anyone tested it against bullets and casings from the restaurant, according to statements at a court hearing.

    Adam Frank eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated escape, served two years in prison and was released in 2001, records show. In 2003, he was arrested for armed robbery, subsequently convicted and sentenced to 65 years in prison.

    While imprisoned, Adam Frank befriended an inmate named Darren Reppond, Lacaze's lawyers say. In a sworn affidavit, Reppond says Adam Frank bragged to him about fatally shooting an officer at a New Orleans restaurant "because the cop shook him down."

    The affidavit didn't elaborate on what may have been meant by "shook him down."

    Filings say that Adam Frank plotted unsuccessfully with Reppond and one other inmate to break out of prison. The plot was foiled, and Reppond confessed the plan to authorities, filings say. Reppond gave his affidavit to Lacaze's lawyers about Adam Frank in October.

    Murder weapon mystery lingers

    Just how Antoinette Frank managed to obtain what officials think was the murder weapon is a question shrouded in a mystery that seems to point to Marullo.

    Prior to Lacaze's trial, Marullo was twice contacted by an NOPD member investigating the order that released the Beretta to Frank that had Marullo's name on it, Neither Marullo nor the state disclosed any of that to Turk in time for Lacaze's trial, Lacaze's attorneys argue.

    Marullo, who refused to recuse himself from either trial, will likely have to testify if Kirby grants an evidentiary hearing to Lacaze.

    Whether Turk did an adequate job defending Lacaze is a question that can never be fully known, Pickett argued Thursday. According to an affidavit by Frank's attorney, Robert Jenkins, Turk had no experience in capital defense, refused to take on a co-counsel, didn't have an investigator and couldn't perform the most basic investigation in the three months he had to prepare for Lacaze's trial.

    "Absent a Ouija board," it's not a fair fight, according to the DA's office.

    "Mr. Turk is the witness you need to have," Pickett has argued. "Without him, the court is going to make a ruling with half the picture."

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/...case_char.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  6. #6
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,109
    Death row inmate Rogers LaCaze heads back to Orleans Parish Criminal District Court seeking new trial



    Seeking a new trial long after being convicted in the murders of a police officer and two other people in a 1995 restaurant massacre that stunned New Orleans, death row inmate Rogers LaCaze will appear with his lawyers Monday (June 17) at an evidentiary hearing in Criminal District Court that could last into the following week. Such hearings are not uncommon in death penalty cases - capital defendants are appointed counsel through what is known as the post-conviction relief phase, which occurs after appeals are exhausted.

    Hundreds of pages worth of filings lodged ahead of the hearing suggest that LaCaze, now 36, and his attorneys at the Capital Appeals Project are going to argue that he deserves a new trial for many reasons, including that prosecutors didn't disclose a key witness' early statement that would have given the defense the opportunity to bolster its argument that LaCaze didn't shoot anyone at the restaurant.

    LaCaze and his attorneys have also argued that the state concealed the fact they once suspected that the person who helped former New Orleans Police Department Officer Antoinette Frank carry out the killings at Kim Anh restaurant was her brother, who was later found to be in possession of what could have been the murder weapon. They also have said LaCaze's trial lawyer, Willie Turk, inadequately represented him.

    Meanwhile, filings show that the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office is prepared to argue that LaCaze and his lawyers -- who have the burden of proof in this phase of the case -- fall short of establishing that the defendant should get a new trial.

    According to the district attorney and his staff: The witness' statement wouldn't have exonerated LaCaze in light of so much other evidence against him. Too many reliable witnesses implicated LaCaze and not Frank's brother, who bears no physical resemblance to the death row inmate. And Turk, whose testimony is necessary to show he was ineffective in defending LaCaze, has been dead since 2006.

    Policeman Ronald "Ronnie" Williams II, 25, and siblings Cuong Vu, 17, and Ha Vu, 24, were fatally shot with a 9 mm handgun during a robbery on March 4, 1995. Williams was working a security detail at the restaurant, and the Vu siblings were working there.

    First LaCaze, then Frank - the most recent New Orleans convict to sit on death row - were found guilty in separate first-degree murder trials.

    Here is some of the evidence that the D.A. can offer to dispute LaCaze's claims:

    LaCaze said he was at Mr. C's billiards hall in eastern New Orleans with his paralyzed brother, Michael, when Williams and the Vus were killed. But pool hall manager Patrick Mazant discredited that alibi. Rogers LaCaze hung out at the pool hall regularly with Michael and would push his brother's wheelchair around. On the day of the Kim Anh slayings, someone else pushed Michael LaCaze's wheelchair - not Rogers, whose absence was conspicuous for that reason, Mazant swore.

    LaCaze used Officer Williams' credit card to purchase gasoline on the West Bank following the killings. LaCaze always paid with cash at the gas station where he filled up and was a regular there. Gas station employee John Ross testified that he remembered LaCaze - not anyone else - bought gas that day because that was the first time LaCaze had ever paid with plastic. LaCaze's lawyers point out that Ross identified their client only after LaCaze had been arrested in the murders and featured in numerous media reports.

    Frank's brother, Adam, approaches 6 feet, 5 inches in height, and LaCaze is about 5-foot-2. Like Williams, Antoinette Frank, now 42, often provided security at Kim Anh, and she would bring Adam around. Chau and Quoc Vu -- who hid in the Kim Anh cooler during the murders and testified in court about the incident -- knew Adam Frank and would not have confused him with the much-smaller LaCaze. The Vus have also said as much to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.

    Yet the Capital Appeals Project contends that there are serious issues with LaCaze's conviction, won when Harry Connick was district attorney.

    For example, soon after the triple-murder, an officer interviewing Quoc Vu asked him, "Did you see the persons who (were) doing the (shooting)?" He replied, "Yes, uh ... I saw the partial side of her."

    On top of that, in a supplemental police report, an NOPD detective wrote that Quoc Vu indicated to police "he observed Antoinette Frank, partially from the side, shooting a gun in the kitchen area."

    Neither Quoc Vu's statement nor the supplemental police report was given to Turk at LaCaze's trial, his lawyers say. Filings show that Quoc Vu, in the same statement, said a man was shooting, a fact he repeated one more time "at police suggestion." However, plainly, Quoc Vu also said he saw Antoinette Frank firing away, LaCaze's lawyers say.

    LaCaze's lawyers have said it isn't unlike the case of New Orleans murder defendant Juan Smith, who was granted a new trial in January 2012 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that Orleans Parish prosecutors violated Smith's constitutional rights by withholding early, conflicting statements from the lone eyewitness to a quintuple murder inside a home on North Roman Street, also in 1995.

    In a reply to LaCaze's arguments, the District Attorney's Office, today led by Leon Cannizzaro, has said it doesn't believe the supplemental police report contained exculpatory evidence requiring disclosure to the defense. Cannizzaro spokesman Chris Bowman declined to discuss that position, citing the office's policy against commenting on open cases.

    "We intend to present our case in court, and after doing so, we believe the judge will find that Rogers LaCaze received a fair trial," he said.

    Then there's Adam Frank, who, LaCaze's lawyers say, a number of people heard "bragging about killing a New Orleans police officer" while he lived in northeastern Louisiana under an alias.

    Police eventually caught Frank carrying a pistol of the same caliber, make and model used to gun down Williams and the Vus. The serial number on the weapon was rubbed off, but crime lab personnel recovered a part of it; that portion matched the serial number on the weapon police think was used at Kim Anh, LaCaze's filings say.

    That pistol was destroyed before it was tested against evidence from Kim Anh. Adam Frank is serving a 65-year prison sentence on a 2003 armed robbery conviction.

    Furthermore, LaCaze's lawyers have an affidavit from Frank's attorney, Robert Jenkins, who said Turk had no experience in capital defense, declined to take on a co-counsel, didn't employ an investigator and couldn't perform even a basic investigation in the three months he was given to prepare for LaCaze's trial. But the district attorney has argued there can't be a proper ruling on the issue of Turk's adequacy unless the lawyer testifies, which is impossible.

    Retired Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Michael Kirby is set to preside over the evidentiary hearing. Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo, who presided over LaCaze's and Frank's trials, has recused himself from the evidentiary hearing and is expected to testify in it.

    It was established Frank secured the gun used to kill Williams and the Vus from NOPD's property and evidence room through a court order that had Marullo's name on it. LaCaze's lawyers have argued that an NOPD member investigating the order releasing the gun to Frank twice contacted Marullo about it, but neither the judge nor the state disclosed any of that to Turk in time for LaCaze's trial.

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/..._lacaze_1.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  7. #7
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,109
    After 18 years, one awful second still haunts the Williams family

    In a sweet, decent and honest world, sweet, decent and honest women like Ann Williams would never encounter me at the seedy downtown corner where I sometimes ply my trade. New Orleans' criminal court fortress on Tulane and Broad is no place for a genuine lady.

    Tragedy brings her there. No one deserves to have her life shattered in a radically violent second. Yet that's what happened to Ann Williams when her son turned his back to the front door of an eastern New Orleans restaurant one March night in 1995.

    That's all it took: a banal pivot, just a turn of the shoulder, really, as an odd moment unspooled in front of him.

    Ronnie Williams made that turn. Made it to his left, walking into Kim Anh Restaurant in eastern New Orleans like any good cop would have if he saw a cop - one he knew - inexplicably sweep in and start herding people he knew into the kitchen at the end of the bar.

    Son, husband, father and New Orleans Police Officer Ronnie Williams acted the way a brave man should: He moved instinctively to help people he knew and liked. And in that second someone flowed through the door behind him and shot him in the back of the head.

    Ann Williams' son kept his eye on the ball, and it cost him his life.

    Who did that to her boy? Well, former NOPD officer Antoinette Frank played a role - that's beyond any doubt. She was the one who pushed two young members of the Vu family into that kitchen, distracting Williams in the process.

    But who was the killer who trailed her?

    For 18 years that person has been Rogers Lacaze. A teenager at the time of the Kim Anh slaughter, he now is a bespectacled man approaching middle age. He is sitting silently this week in an orange jumpsuit as a team of lawyers argue that he deserves another trial.

    When a person has been sentenced to death, as Lacaze has, no motion is spurious. Indeed, if America would abolish the death penalty - as it should - none of these proceedings would have been set in motion and neither Ann nor her divorced husband, Ron, would have to drag themselves to court again to relive their nightmare publicly.

    Still, whimsical post-conviction requests clog the courts. Lacaze, however, would appear to have some real meat on his appellate bone. His defense team is leaving no stone unturned, from evergreen arguments like inefficient counsel to suppression of exculpatory evidence - the latter something distressingly common in murder cases tried by former District Attorney Harry Connick's office.

    Indeed, along those lines Lacaze's team dropped what promised to be an evidentiary bombshell: another survivor. Vui Thi Vu, who is unrelated to the Vu family that owned the Kim Anh, was a kitchen worker there that night. In those terrifying seconds, Chau Vu told her to hide, and Vui joined Chau and Quoc Vu in the restaurant's walk-in cooler.

    She came from California to testify. She said she saw a man with Frank in the kitchen as Chau and Quoc's siblings were slaughtered, but she could not identify the man then or now. Indeed, she was so crouched in the cooler, her testimony implied, she saw only his "shadow."

    Prosecutors said Vui's testimony changed nothing in the known narrative of what happened that night, and that's basically true. It's also true, however, that it's beyond curious the existence of another survivor to one of the city's most notorious crimes wasn't made clear to Lacaze's and Frank's lawyers before trial or to the public until 2013.

    Even more compelling is the plausible chance it wasn't Lacaze inside the Kim Anh that night, but Antoinette Frank's brother, Adam. Lacaze was at the restaurant with Frank prior to the shooting, and, his alibi shredded by other witnesses, Chau and Quoc later identified Lacaze in court as the man with Frank in the kitchen.

    Adam Frank, a convicted loser serving 65 years for armed robbery, and his sister, who is sitting on death row, aren't about to talk -- so that makes the case circumstantial. There's plenty of circumstance here, however, so the hearing before retired Appeals Court Judge Michael Kirby may end with the Williams family and the Vus enduring it all one more time.

    As one might expect, it hasn't been an easy road for them, though there are positive developments. Ann and Ron have six grandchildren now. One of them, the newborn that Ronnie and wife Mary welcomed weeks before his death, just graduated from Brother Martin.

    But they've never wavered in their belief that Lacaze is guilty, and another long stint at Tulane and Broad is brutal.

    "Ronnie didn't deserve to die at 25," Ann said. "We've been through so much, I think we've been through more than Lacaze or Antoinette Frank will ever go through. With almost all of these things, you make your peace, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to make my peace with Ronnie's murder."

    http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.s...ful_secon.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  8. #8
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,109
    New witness comes forward in Rogers LaCaze triple-murder case, DA says

    The day after arguments ended last month in Rogers LaCaze's push for a new trial in the 1995 triple murder of employees at an eastern New Orleans restaurant, a formerly unknown witness contacted the state with new information, according to court documents filed this week by the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office. That person, who the documents say had not previously spoken to police, prosecutors or the news media, appeared before a grand jury July 11.

    Prosecutors are asking the court to delay a ruling on LaCaze's bid for a new trial and to re-open an evidentiary hearing based on the new information.

    LaCaze's lawyers are urging the court to compel the district attorney to reveal who the witness is, the nature of the potential testimony and precisely what the grand jury inquiry is attempting to achieve. They also argue that it is outside of the grand jury's duty to examine cases that have already been tried.

    The District Attorney's Office refused to comment on the case Thursday, but said in court filings that it is not obligated to disclose the names of its witnesses or their expected testimony in the post-conviction phase of cases and that the grand jury may legally "inquire into all capital offenses and offenses punishable by life imprisonment (that may be tried) within the parish."

    Without elaborating, in court records, prosecutors argued that the witness offers testimony to rebut claims LaCaze made about, among other things, his alleged mental retardation and his innocence in the crime. Innocence "is not a cognizable claim for post-conviction-relief by itself," but it "inextricably permeates LaCaze's arguments as to each and every one of his other claims," Assistant District Attorneys Andrew Pickett and Matthew Kirkham argued in a filing.

    LaCaze, now 36, and former New Orleans police officer Antoinette Frank, 42, were arrested in the shooting deaths of NOPD officer Ronald "Ronnie" Williams II, 25; Cuong Vu, 17; and Ha Vu, 24, during a robbery at Kim Anh restaurant March 4, 1995. Williams, like Frank, provided off-duty security at the restaurant, and the Vu siblings worked there.

    Separate juries in 1995 convicted LaCaze and Frank, and both defendants were sent to death row. LaCaze and his Capital Appeals Project attorneys filed a petition for post-conviction relief May 7, 2010. After lodging supplements to that filing Oct. 17, 2012, and March 14, there was an evidentiary hearing that started June 17 and concluded June 26.

    Some 30 witnesses testified. Then, on June 27, "due solely to the press surrounding the aftermath of the evidentiary hearing," a person whose name is not contained in any police report related to the Kim Anh investigation came forward and divulged to the state what prosecutors describe as "pertinent information."

    The court had ordered both sides to file their post-evidentiary hearing memoranda by the close of business July 12. According to LaCaze's lawyers, after business hours on July 12, the district attorney's office sent an email asking the court to extend the memoranda filing deadline, reopen the evidentiary hearing and postpone the decision on whether or not LaCaze deserves a new trial, tentatively due around the beginning of August.

    LaCaze's lawyers said the state also filed a transcript of the new witness' grand jury testimony "ex parte," the legal phrase for a matter in which only one party to a case is present.

    LaCaze and his attorneys are pleading with the court to deny the district attorney's request, in part arguing that the state had plenty of time to find the witness earlier and falls short of establishing that reopening the evidentiary hearing is necessary.

    "Absent a description of this new evidence, (LaCaze) is unable to meaningfully respond to the state's claims," a filing by Sarah Ottinger and Blythe Taplin of the Capital Appeals Project said.

    Ottinger and Taplin also contend that the grand jury is "an accusatory body whose purpose is to determine if there is sufficient basis for bringing (a) defendant to trial."

    "This kind of gamesmanship is emblematic of the state's tactics at Mr. LaCaze's 1995 capital trial and should be given no credence by this court," they said.

    Prosecutors replied that it handled things the way it did mostly for the "physical security of the new witness, who has expressed concern for his or her safety."

    The new witness' grand jury testimony "clearly sets out a sufficient basis for reopening proceedings," and "there was no amount of diligence that would have allowed the state to discover the identity of this witness until the witness chose to come forward," the District Attorney's Office added.

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/...ward_in_r.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  9. #9
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,109

    Judge orders evidentiary hearing for death row inmate Rogers LaCaze to be re-opened

    A judge's ruling has reopened the evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not death row inmate Rogers LaCaze should get a new trial. The ruling on Thursday followed the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office's recent disclosure that a witness with new, relevant information came forward for the first time ever the day after a post-conviction evidentiary hearing for LaCaze held between June 17 and June 26, when that person saw news media coverage of the proceedings.

    Presiding Judge Michael Kirby ruled that the new witness' testimony doesn't "wholly refute" LaCaze's arguments for a new trial, though it does cast his claims about things such as police brutality, mental retardation and actual innocence "in a completely different light." Kirby ordered the state and LaCaze's Capital Appeals Project attorneys to arrange mutually available hearing dates and secure a courtroom at Tulane and Broad.

    LaCaze, now 36, and former New Orleans police officer Antoinette Frank, 42, were charged in the shooting deaths of NOPD officer Ronald "Ronnie" Williams II, 25; Cuong Vu, 17; and Ha Vu, 24, during a robbery at Kim Anh restaurant March 4, 1995. Williams, like Frank, provided off-duty security at the restaurant, and the Vu siblings worked there.

    Separate juries in 1995 convicted LaCaze and Frank, and both defendants were sent to death row. LaCaze and his team of attorneys sought post-conviction relief, and there was an evidentiary hearing in which some 30 witnesses testified.

    A ruling on the hearing was expected sometime around early August.

    However, on June 27, "due solely to the press surrounding the aftermath of the evidentiary hearing," a person whose name is not contained in any police report related to the Kim Anh investigation came forward and divulged to the state what prosecutors described as "pertinent information."

    That person appeared before a grand jury on July 11. The D.A.'s Office moved to reopen the evidentiary hearing and supplied a transcript of the grand jury testimony to Kirby, who read it before LaCaze's lawyers could ask him to wait to do that until he had looked over their opposition to the state's motion, the ruling said.

    In part, two of LaCaze's lawyers, Blythe Taplin and Sarah Ottinger, argued that the state violated grand jury secrecy laws and urged Kirby to dispose of the D.A.'s motion without considering the testimony. Kirby said he disagreed, though, concluding the testimony directly concerned an issue pending before him and that its disclosure was permissible.

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/...ary_heari.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  10. #10
    Administrator
    Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,109
    'Other Guy' Theory Won't Win FOIA Production

    A death row lawyer who says police got the wrong guy cannot access law enforcement records on the supposed true culprit, a federal judge ruled.
    Blythe Taplin, a lawyer with the nonprofit Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans, had asked the FBI on behalf of her client Rogers Lacaze to release such documents.
    Lacaze has been awaiting the death penalty for 18 years on a triple murder that occurred at the Kim Anh Vietnamese Restaurant in 199.
    Jurors found that Lacaze had been an accomplice to New Orleans Police Officer Antoinette Frank in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old New Orleans Police Officer Ronald Williams, 24-year-old Ha Vu and 17-year-old Cuong Vu.
    Frank was also convicted and sentenced to death for the murders.
    Lacaze's lawyer claims, however, that she has uncovered evidence in postconviction proceedings that identify Frank's true accomplice - her brother, Adam Frank Jr.
    Taplin says witnesses heard Adam Frank Jr. brag about killing a New Orleans police officer, and that he was found in possession of a 9 mm Beretta - the same caliber, make and model weapon used in the triple-murder.
    Antoinette also once threatened Officer Williams after he ejected Adam from the restaurant, Taplin says.
    The lawyer filed suit after the FBI refused to confirm or deny, when faced with her request under the Freedom of Information Act, whether it had any documents on Adam.
    Such answers are known as a Glomar responses, named after the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a ship used in a classified CIA project to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean.
    In its motion for summary judgment, the FBI said that Exemption 7(C) shields it from producing "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes ... [that] could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
    U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras threw out the case Tuesday after finding that Taplin "has not met her evidentiary burden of showing that a reasonable person would believe that the government is withholding information that could corroborate her theory that the third party committed the crime."
    Contreras ruled against Taplin despite noting several factors that "weaken the rationales supporting Mr. Frank's privacy interest in nondisclosure.
    Indeed a judge who recently sentenced Adam Frank to a 65-year sentence for an unrelated armed robbery remarked in court: "I am extremely, extremely, extremely concerned that if this man ever gets out on the street, he is going to do some serious harm to somebody, somewhere, somehow, someday, and that serious harm could include murder ... You are a danger to society, you are really a danger to society."
    "In view of the police report documenting Mr. Frank's supposed admission that he killed a New Orleans police officer, and the sentencing judge's damning statements about the threat Mr. Frank poses to society, it is not clear that an FBI admission that it has records concerning Mr. Frank would 'engender comment and speculation and carr[y] a stigmatizing connotation' far beyond that which already exists," Contreras wrote.
    The court nevertheless found these points insufficient to back up Taplin's assertions.
    "To show that 'a reasonable person could believe' that Mr. Frank was the killer, Ms. Taplin must point to evidence," Contreras wrote. "But she provides only allegations."
    Taplin also failed to show that the FBI even has documents related to Frank's potential involvement in the murders, according to the ruling.
    "The complaint does not allege, for example, that the FBI investigated those murders, which would have made it likely that the agency's documents regarding Mr. Frank are relevant to Mr. Lacaze's case," Contreras wrote. "In view of Mr. Frank's extensive criminal background, it would not be surprising that the FBI has files on him. However, Ms. Taplin has not presented cause for a reasonable person to believe that the documents would have anything to do with the Kim Anh murders rather than Mr. Frank's other crimes."

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/09/12/61098.htm
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •