Karey not guilty verdict raises concerns in the community

Karey not guilty verdict raises concerns in the community
Woodrow Karey and Pastor Ronald Harris (Source: KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The not guilty verdict for Woodrow Karey has come as a shock to many in the community, who wonder how someone can walk into a church, shoot someone in front of some 50 witnesses and be acquitted.

The killing at Tabernacle of Praise Church on Sept. 27, 2013, could have been different. Ronald Harris's daughter, Talisha Jacko, took a gun out immediately after the first shot.

"I did, I had a weapon on me at the time and I did try to fire it," she said. "However, it did jam up on me because I hadn't shot it in a while. But it did jam up on me. I was very devastated because, at one point, I did go through like, I could have saved his life and I failed him."

So, it could have been a much different outcome. Even if Pastor Harris did bad things to Woodrow Karey and his wife, it's hard for some to see how a jury finds him not guilty, when he admits walking in and killing the preacher in front of so many.

"He walked into a church that was having a revival and killed this man," said Cynthia Killingsworth, First Assistant D.A. for Calcasieu Parish. "We have lots and lots of witnesses that saw this."

She is concerned it sends the wrong message to the community.

"I'm very concerned about what this says to others," she said. "I'm extremely concerned about what this says to our community when members of our community think that it's okay to go into a place and kill somebody like this. I am shocked."

Harris family attorney Ron Richard agrees.

"I've been doing this 21 years and I haven't seen anything like this at all in Calcasieu Parish," Richard said. "It concerns me greatly about what people may think is okay to do now, when they get angry, when they get mad, when they feel they've been wronged. I'm very fearful that people will think it's okay now to take matters into their own hands and not just seek vigilante justice but just right-out murder."

Yet, Karey attorney Todd Clemons says it's not that.

"It's not revenge, it's justice. I always say to people, 'Do not threaten another man," he said. "Do not call another man's wife a stinky b****. Do not say you and your family will suffer. Do not call another man's wife a piece of meat. Do not go in another man's house and violate his wife and his household. I would say do not beat another man's wife in public on Common Street where two strangers have to call 911. That's what I would say to the public. If you don't do that, you don't have to worry about somebody gunning you down."

And in the case of Woodrow Karey and the killing of Ronald Harris, the jury has spoken.

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