Letter asks Jindal to intervene in teen murder case

By Brandon Richards - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, La (KPLC-TV) – A letter addressed to Gov. Bobby Jindal and sent to several media outlets, including KPLC-TV, claimed four suspects who are charged in connection to the death of Alexus Rankins, were being mistreated because it has taken nearly a year for their trial to begin.

The letter was sent by a "Maury Shelley" from Ft. Gibson, Georgia.

In it, the writer urges Gov. Jindal to intervene to help speed up the trial for Rodney and his wife Nina Newton and their two sons, Sean and Brandon.

Rodney Newton is charged with accessory after the fact; his wife is charged with accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice; Sean Newton is charged with first degree murder; and Brandon Newton, who is a juvenile but who is being tried as an adult, is charged with inciting to riot and obstruction of justice.

7 News showed the letter to Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier.

DeRosier dismissed the arguments in the letter saying, "The individual who wrote the letter is not completely apprised of the situation in this particular case."

DeRosier said the trial is set to start on time for March 28th.

He calls the timeframe remarkable, considering the fact that there are so many suspects charged in this case.

"There is more than ample evidence to bring these individuals to trial on the charges they've been indicted," said DeRosier.

Todd Clemons, an attorney for Rodney and Nina Newton, agrees the timeframe for the trial is reasonable, but he says his concern is that his clients' rights have been violated because their bond was set excessively high.

"The tragic part is both of my clients were incarcerated and constitutionally perceived innocent," said Clemons. "Unfortunately, they're not in a position to post their bond."

7 News contacted Governor Jindal's office for comment, since the letter was addressed to him.

His press secretary released the following, "We reached out to the District Attorney and he assured us that the case will be proceeding shortly."

Neither DeRosier nor Clemons knew who "Maury Shelley" was.

7 News returned messages to the person who emailed the letter, however our messages were not returned by our press deadline.

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