Charges dismissed against murder suspect

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) - Family members of murder victim James Anderson in Jennings are hoping the dismissal of charges against the man originally charged won't be the end of the case.

Anderson's family members were shocked when charges against Akeem Nixon were dismissed in the middle of Nixon's trial.  Family members and members of the community want to see more investigation that will lead to the crime being solved.

But the 2008 murder in Jennings may now forever remain unsolved-- while the witness who changed her story concerning the murder suspect is behind bars. Still family members of victim James Anderson hope for justice.

It was Thanksgiving night, 2008 when Anderson had gone with cousins to South Main Street in Jennings, his sister Carla Billups says, to make sure none of them got into trouble. Anderson was standing with a group of people when someone began shooting--- police believe Anderson was not himself the target of the shooter, but he was hit. Says Billups, "Our family has been devastated. My mother is so upset because she lost her son. She lost my father in the war, she lost his father in an accident and now she's lost her son."

Akeem Nixon was arrested not long after the killing-- but in the middle of his trial last week-- the state's key witness, Ravin Neal, changed her story. District attorney Michael Cassidy says they had no choice but to dismiss the charge of second degree murder.  "We didn't have other credible witnesses that could identify the defendant as the shooter so ethically we had no choice. We had to dismiss the case."

You can't be tried twice for the same crime. So Akeem Nixon can never again be tried again for the murder of James Anderson because the trial was well underway when the witness changed her story. Explains Cassidy, "In Louisiana once you select your jury and call your first witness, that's our one bite at the apple and that's all the prosecution gets. I don't know what happened to make her change her story at the last minute."

Neal has been booked for filing a false police report in connection with the case. Says Cassidy, "We charged her with criminal mischief by providing a false statement to law enforcement."

Meanwhile, Billups hopes one day there will be justice for James.  "The street was full. They only found one credible witness and they had so many people out there. No one has come forward. Our family is willing to put up five thousand dollars leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer of James Anderson."

Jennings Police continue to investigate and urge anyone with information to come forward. Cassidy says Neal could get up to six months in jail and a five hundred dollar fine for filing a false report. She is also booked for unrelated charges of issuing worthless checks.

We'll have more on this story on later editions of KPLC7News

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