Daigle trial proceedings put on hold by Third Circuit

Daigle trial proceedings put on hold by Third Circuit
Kevin Daigle (Source: Calcasieu Correctional Center)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Jury selection for the trial of Kevin Daigle is to begin April 30 in Benton, in Bossier Parish.  Yet one week before, there are seven new defense motions to be heard in State District Court.  And now the Third Circuit has put trial proceedings on hold.

Daigle is accused of first-degree murder of State Trooper Steven Vincent in 2015 and the state is seeking the death penalty if Daigle is convicted.

The Third Circuit is considering whether Judge Clayton Davis made the right decision when he decided not to remove Judge Guy Bradberry from the case, as requested by the defense. The defense wanted Bradberry removed from the case for several reasons, including that Vincent's wife had worked in juvenile court, where the judge also works, and because the defense found what it considered social media interaction between the two, even though the judge testified there had been none.

Whether jury selection starts in Daigle's on April 30th likely depends on the Third Circuit.  If a panel decides quickly that Bradberry stays, they could begin questioning jurors in Bossier Parish on Monday. But...

"The defense counsel at 10:30 this morning filed a 392-page document, contesting the fact that judge Bradberry was not recused.  And we didn't receive that until sometime later.  We have not had an opportunity to respond and then the next thing you know, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal stayed all hearings that were set to go at 1:30, so we're in limbo right now," said Calcasieu Special Prosecutor Rick Bryant.

Bryant is frustrated with delays he says stem from motions that could have been filed a long time ago.

"The defense team has constantly filed new motions over and over and over again.  We believe this is all delay tactics.  They didn't get their motions for a continuance, so now they're filing all these last-minute motions that could have been filed a year or two ago and heard a year or two ago," said Bryant.

The defense filed 7 motions last week.  The state has filed responses to those and one to prevent any improper jury questioning by the defense.

"We filed a motion to ensure that they are not allowed to bring up hypothetical situations about this case and ask the jurors to pre-commit before they actually hear the case.  That's not permissible," said Bryant.

Click HERE to read the state's motion.

Bryant, who has tried capital murder cases before, says he's never seen such delay tactics.

"I'm outraged by it and I"m tired of it," he said.

But at this point, it's up to the Third Circuit what happens next.   Vincent was shot along a rural road August 23rd, 2015.

We attempted to reach defense attorney Kyla Romanach who is our contact on the defense team, but have not yet heard back.

The defense is seeking a fourth postponement of the trial due to a pending oral argument before the Louisiana Supreme Court.  In its response, the state says that is not a basis to again stay the trial.

Other motions filed last week include one to require jurors to unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt in the penalty phase; another to limit law officers from wearing uniforms in the courtroom during the trial; accommodations for Daigle to better hear at trial; request to exclude "improper" closing arguments at penalty phase; require state to furnish report of psychiatrist who examined Daigle; and motion to restrict opinion testimony by a state witness who is a professor at McNeese and retired state trooper dealing with Daigle's intoxication defense.

The state has now filed responses to the defense motions.  They can be read below.

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