Family loyalty brings criminal charges

Accessory after the fact

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Lake Charles police searched for fugitive Mark Thibodeaux for days for his connection in a double homicide on North Prater Street.

They questioned his mother Mary Friday and sister Roselind Friday. Both stated they had no contact with him and were not aware of his whereabouts. They now face accessory after the fact charges for their participation in Thibodeaux's run from the law.

Criminal defense attorney Todd Clemons explains what must happen for these charges to be filed.

"The person has to be accused of a crime," said Clemons. "You have to have reason to know that they might have committed a crime, but also you're concealing them with the idea of preventing them of being apprehended by law enforcement."

Police say that's exactly what happened. But it's not the first time local law enforcement has been mislead by family members.

After the 2010 murder of lake Charles teen Alexus Rankins, both parents of the accused murderer Sean Newton were charged and convicted of accessory after the fact. His mom Nina Newton also faced an obstruction of justice charge. District attorney John DeRosier explains why obstruction is more severe.

"Lying to the police knowing that you are harboring the defendant and trying to tell the police that you don't have any idea where the defendant is and certain other facts that would intend to indicate that you have no knowledge of anything that's going on, while you are in fact actively participating in assisting that defendant with evading law enforcement that can be one of those charges," said DeRosier.

But Clemons says not speaking to police isn't a crime.

"If they know where there loved one may be who may be accused of a crime and they choose not to tell that to the police, that's their right," said Clemons. "That's their constitutional right."

No matter the circumstances, both DeRosier and Clemons suggest doing the right thing: go to the police and get a lawyer.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.