D.A. Closes Gerald Washington Case - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

D.A. Closes Gerald Washington Case

March 29, 2007
Reported By: Pam Dixon & Lee Peck 

After reviewing the Louisiana State Police report, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier officially closed the investigation in the death of Westlake Mayor-Elect Gerald Washington. The report, including attached documents of evidence is about 800 pages long. It contains summaries of more than 100 interviews with witnesses, including law enforcement, along with more than 20 DVD's and video tapes.

"I find nothing within the four corners of that document that would indicate the presence at the site of Mr. Washington's death that would indicate anyone other than him at the site," said DeRosier.

Three months after being overwhelming elected as the city of Westlake's first black mayor, Washington's body was discovered in the parking lot of the old Mossville High School on the night of December 30, 2006. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office was in charge of the investigation and along with the Calcasieu Coroner's Office concluded Washington died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

Dissatisfied with the sheriff's investigation, Washington's family asked the case be handed over to the Louisiana State Police for a more "thorough investigation." In their 800 page report, State Police outline why they believe Gerald Washington committed suicide. Perhaps the most telling piece of physical evidence to support their findings is the blood patterns Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's deputies found on Washington's truck.

"The men and women that work for the Calcasieu Sheriff's Office are highly trained and know what they are doing," said Sheriff Tony Mancuso. "Based on the evidence at the scene and the fact that we knew it was Mr. Washington's gun... plus, the blood splatter is consistent with self-inflicted and would have been impossible for anyone to have been in front of him."

Despite Washington's family expressing both investigations to be a cover up, the report points out Washington's wife, Mary, was not surprised when she received the news of his death by Calcasieu Parish Chief Sheriff's Deputy Stitch Guillory.

The report quotes Mrs. Washington as saying: "I knew what he was going to do when he left away from here. I knew it."

According to the report, Mrs. Washington goes on to disclose to Guillory that in the weeks before his death Washington was depressed and had not been eating or sleeping because he felt like he had let the family down by losing $200,000 to $300,000 of his retirement gambling.

Records show when he retired from Conoco in 2003, Washington had approximately $726,000 in an IRA account. In December 2006, that same account had only $372,000 left. State Police were also able to trace Washington's gambling activity in Louisiana and Reno, Nevada. Investigators were able to uncover documentation that Washington had lost nearly $100,000 in 2006. Witnesses interviewed also say Washington owed about $50,000 in back taxes to the IRS.

Also in the report, three women claimed to be having affairs with Washington, one of whom told investigators she tried to expose the soon to be mayor, by calling then Westlake Mayor Dudley Dixon and KPLC late last year.

As the Washington family continues to press forward in their search for answers, DeRosier says as far as he's concerned this investigation is over.

"I have asked the family to bring me any additional evidence they may have. I have not heard back from the family -- so I can only assume there is no additional evidence, therefore I am closing the case," said DeRosier.  

The Washington family released a statement which says, "The Washington family was fully aware of what the report stated, so there is no shock to what has been mentioned in this report. However, we are very disappointed that District Attorney John DeRosier stated he would speak to the family prior to release and he did not. But this is yet another example of Calcasieu Parish elected officials not exercising good judgement and being unprofessional."

Meanwhile, results are still pending from an independent third autopsy on Gerald Washington's body by world renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht. Wecht requested several documents from the investigation to complete his report. The family tells 7 News they hope to get that information to him in Pittsburgh some time next week.

 

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