LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Criminal trials are public, yet, at the state’s request, the record is sealed in the case of Kevin Daigle. He’s accused of first degree murder of State Trooper Steven Vincent in 2015 and the state is seeking the death penalty.
The new prosecutors, Cliff Strider and Lea Hall of north Louisiana, won’t talk about the case.
For three years, up until a couple of months ago, Rick Bryant was prosecuting Daigle, but now he's in private practice. We asked Bryant why an entire record would be sealed.
“I just never felt it necessary because the defense knows everything in the case; the state knows everything in the case. When you seal the record, the only people that don’t know anything would normally be the public. And so, we felt that the public, especially in such a high profile case, needs to know everything as much as they can without tainting any potential jurors. And we’re not selecting jurors from Calcasieu Parish. So I don’t see how a juror could be tainted by that,” said Bryant.
Judge Clayton Davis also issued a gag order, which means those involved can’'t talk about the case—though it’s not clear if one side or the other asked for it. Bryant says he thinks it’s good for the people to know what’s going on.
"I've always been a big fan of letting the public know what's going on in cases where there's a tremendous public interest. Many cases, the public doesn't care about. They don't care about a burglary case, they don't care about an armed robbery case, but when you're dealing with a high profile case you have to make a decision going forward. Most of the time, in the cases I've handled, we like open disclosure of everything that's going on and I think it's always the best policy when you can do that," said Bryant.
Davis moved the case to Lafayette and has set a trial date for July 1 of 2019 and ordered pretrial motions be filed by April 16. Davis is expected to conduct the trial.
In the Daigle case, Judge Davis has also ordered that jurors will be addressed only by juror number unless otherwise permitted by the court.