La. Supreme Court throws out second-degree murder indictment in - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

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La. Supreme Court throws out second-degree murder indictment in Woodrow Karey case

Woodrow Karey (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office) Woodrow Karey (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center) (Source: Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The Louisiana Supreme Court has thrown out a second-degree murder charge against Woodrow Karey, the man accused of shooting a pastor in a Lake Charles church in September 2013.

Karey is alleged to have killed Pastor Ronald Harris during a Friday night revival service on Sept. 27, 2013. Karey claimed at the time that Harris had raped his wife.

Click HERE to read the Supreme Court's 33-page ruling.

Karey was initially indicted on a charge of manslaughter, but the Calcasieu District Attorney's Office brought the case back to a grand jury, which indicted Karey on a second-degree murder charge.

Karey's attorneys claimed that they had provided information to the state for the initial grand jury as part of an agreement that whatever the grand jury decided would stand.

District Court Judge Clayton Davis agreed with the defense, throwing out the second-degree murder indictment. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, though, reinstated the charge. The Supreme Court has now overturned the 3rd Circuit's ruling, saying it violated the agreement between the state and the defense.

The Louisiana Supreme Court ruling reads: There "was evidence in the record supporting the district court’s factual findings that the defense and the prosecution had a common goal to obtain a manslaughter indictment from the initial grand jury and that there was an 'understanding' or agreement between the parties that they would 'live with' or be bound by the conclusion of that grand jury."

The state said there was new evidence when it brought the case to a grand jury a second time. But defense attorneys don't believe that and say the District Attorney's Office succumbed to pressure from Harris' family.

"Based upon pressure from the family, they decided to renege on the deal seven-and-a-half months later," defense attorney Todd Clemons said. "They claim in pleadings, they claimed before the state Supreme Court that there was some newly discovered evidence. We're four years later, we're about to have a trial, we haven't seen any newly discovered evidence. There is no newly discovered evidence."

However, Calcasieu D.A. John DeRosier says there is new evidence, which will be revealed down the road.

"In any kind of case, particularly homicide, there's always pressure from the victim's family," DeRosier said. "That does not influence us one way or the other.  We do what we have to do.  Number two, there was significant new information contrary to what the defense may want to say that was derived from the grand jury proceeding. That's why we did not disclose it because it was grand jury information."

The state is expected to file manslaughter charges soon.

Attorney Adam Johnson said the defense plans to file for a bond reduction.

"I know we intend to file a motion for bond reduction based on the fact that this entire delay has been caused by the state not honoring its original agreement," Johnson said. "So, I think Judge Davis needs to consider a motion for bond reduction based on that fact as well.  So we'll certainly put that before him sometime next week." 

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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