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David Brown - Louisiana Death Row - Page 2
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Thread: David Brown - Louisiana Death Row

  1. #11
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Justice pulls out of death penalty case after radio remarks

    A Louisiana Supreme Court justice disqualified himself Tuesday (Nov. 21) from a death row inmate's appeal after a talk radio interview in which he cited the man's case in expressing support for capital punishment.

    Justice Scott Crichton didn't specify a reason for his recusal from David Brown's case, but the inmate's attorneys had questioned whether the elected justice could be impartial.

    Brown was one of five inmates charged with first-degree murder in the killing of a prison guard, Capt. David Knapps, during a 1999 escape attempt at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Brown is appealing his conviction and death sentence.

    Brown's lawyers said in court filing Monday that Crichton mentioned the so-called "Angola 5" case during an Oct. 23 talk radio interview in which he expressed support for the death penalty as a deterrent against prison killings.

    "Specifically, he and his interviewer agreed that inmates with life sentences 'have nothing to lose' and that murders by prisoners, like 'the Angola 5 in South Louisiana,' prove that the death penalty is a deterrent because inmates who have been executed cannot then harm prison guards," the lawyers wrote.

    Defense lawyers said the justice also talked about recent litigation challenging the state's protocols for lethal injection. Crichton suggested death row inmates should be given a choice between three methods of execution: a three-drug mixture, a single-drug injection or a firing squad, according to the lawyers.

    The lawyers said the justice has expressed his personal opinions about the death penalty during other recent interviews on radio shows, encouraging listeners to contact legislators "to prevent the abolition of the death penalty." They argued the justice's comments violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and warranted his recusal from Brown's case.

    Louisiana hasn't executed an inmate since 2010. All of the state's death penalty cases remain hold until at least 2018 pending the outcome of the litigation challenging the state's lethal-injection protocols.

    Crichton's 10-year term on the state's highest court began in January 2015. The 63-year-old justice previously served as a state court judge in north Louisiana for 24 years. His biography on the state Supreme Court's website says he is "a frequent lecturer throughout the state on Ethics."

    Brown was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction when Knapps was fatally stabbed and beaten in a prison bathroom. Brown told investigators he helped drag the guard into the bathroom but claimed he wasn't present at the time of Knapps' death.

    Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Brown's case.


  2. #12
    Senior Member Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Louisiana Supreme Court hears capital appeal of Angola 5 member David Brown

    By John Zimmerman

    David Brown could hardly deny a role in a botched 1999 prison escape that left a guard beaten to death inside the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

    The blood of Capt. David Knapps had soaked into Brown’s pants and long johns. It dripped across his shoes and caked around his fingers.

    The Angola 5 member admitted he’d dragged Knapps, bleeding from a mallet strike to the head, from a prison hallway and into a small bathroom where he was beaten to death at age 41.

    But Brown’s attorneys have long argued that he wasn’t around for the killing and wasn’t privy to a change in plans – from an escape where nobody got hurt to the murder of a prison guard.

    On Monday, the Louisiana Supreme Court debated if a jury would have wavered over Brown’s guilt on a charge of first-degree murder, or the death sentence he received after a 2011 trial, had they known of a statement withheld by prosecutors that seemed to support his defense.

    Brown’s case reached the state’s highest court on appeal almost a decade after a jury in West Feliciana Parish found him guilty, then agreed on death in under an hour.

    Jefferson Parish prosecutors were getting ready to try another Angola 5 member, Barry Edge, months later when they revealed a statement from another inmate, Richard Domingue, who claimed that Edge confessed that he and inmate Jeffrey Clark had hatched a plan together to kill Knapps.

    "He said him and Jeffrey did, were the only ones that were thinking rationally during this highly charged situation. And they made a decision to help their self to kill (Knapps),” Domingue said. “But they could have let him live.”

    A jury convicted Edge of first-degree murder, though jurors could not agree on a death sentence, leaving him serving life in prison. Brown's attorney, William Sothern, argued on Monday that prosecutors hid Domingue's statement until it helped them.

    “Had the jury had this statement, everything in the case would have been viewed in a different light,” Sothern said. “This is the only piece of evidence in the case where someone says, ‘I did it.’”

    Sothern argued that the scenario was “even worse” than in Brady v. Maryland, the 1963 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court established that prosecutors must turn over all evidence favorable to a defendant.

    Juliet Clark, a prosecutor with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office, which tried Brown, downplayed the importance of Domingue’s statement, however. She said Edge never admitted killing Knapps directly, and that Brown revealed a murderous intent of his own.

    Nothing that Barry Edge says can diminish the evidence that is literally on David Brown’s body. He is literally red-handed with Capt. Knapps’ blood,” she said.

    The same issue came to the court years ago, after Jerome Winsberg, the ad hoc trial judge, ordered a new penalty phase for Brown. Winsberg found a "reasonable probability" that Brown's sentence would be different had the jury heard Domingue's statement. An appeals court panel reversed that decision in a 2-1 vote. The Louisiana Supreme Court declined to reconsider it in a 4-3 vote, opining that Domingue's statement "provides no additional evidence as to who actually killed Captain Knapp." None of the four justices in that majority are involved this time around.

    Chief Justice John Weimer and new Justice Jay McCallum delved into details of Knapp's killing as they questioned the claim that a jury would consider Brown less culpable.

    “I thought the defendant said in his statement he dragged the captain into the bathroom?” Weimer asked.

    “Indeed he did. And we don’t dispute that point,” Sothern responded.

    “And (Knapp) was already bleeding at that time because he had already been attacked in the hallway,” Weimer added.

    “That’s definitely true.”

    But Justice Piper Griffin questioned why prosecutors, led by roving death-penalty specialist Hugo Holland, didn’t reveal Domingue’s statement until after the trial.

    Weimer and other justices also questioned a handwritten immunity deal that legendary former Angola prison warden Burl Cain reached with Brown as a hostage situation unfolded in the prison. Brown, who was serving a life prison sentence for murder at the time, then admitted he held down Knapps while the guard was being hit.

    “There was no reason for David Brown to believe that he was going to benefit from that,” Clark said of the deal with Cain. “He knew that Capt. Knapps was dead and they were about to find out.”


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