Trial starts today for man accused of killing brother
Jury selection is scheduled today in the trial of Christopher Horton, 28, accused of killing his brother, Adam Horton, in the victim’s Bayou Vista home at 537 Little Pines Lane on Sept. 3, 2007.
Christopher Horton was charged with second-degree murder upon his Sept. 5, 2007, arrest, but was indicted on a first-degree murder charge by a grand jury on Oct. 2, 2007. He spent almost 19 months in a state mental facility in Jackson before being determined on May 17, 2011, to be competent to stand trial.
Horton is accused of participating with his brother-in-law, Jimmy Wright, in robbing and stabbing Adam Horton. Christopher Horton’s wife, Earline Horton, was arrested as an accessory after the fact to second-degree murder.
A St. Mary Parish jury convicted Wright, 27, on Dec. 17, 2009, of second-degree murder for his involvement in the murder. The conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.
Both men admitted to being at the scene of the killing, but gave different accounts of what happened in the 2007 affidavit of probable cause for arrest. They each fingered the other as the person who stabbed the victim.
Horton claimed he served as the lookout person when he and Wright went to the victim’s house to rob him, according to the affidavit. Horton said he cut up an electrical cord and threw it to Wright to tie up the victim, but denied any kind of physical contact with the victim or stabbing him, the affidavit stated.
Wright told police the two men went to rough up the victim and he got Adam Horton to answer the door at which time Christopher Horton entered and chased the victim to a back room, the affidavit stated. Wright said he saw Christopher Horton stab his brother in the chest, the affidavit stated.
The men also were accused of taking cash and a credit card from the victim then returning later to take the victim’s car and torching it at Wilson’s boat landing near Patterson.
Last week, Horton’s defense won an early victory when District Judge Paul deMahy ruled Horton’s confession of his involvement to police is inadmissible.
Assistant District Attorney Anthony Saleme said Thursday that he and his staff disagreed with that decision, but would assess their case and determine if an appeal of the ruling would be made. Friday, he said the prosecution would proceed to trial without the confession.
A cellmate wrote a purported confession given to him to be written at Horton’s behest. His cellmate said in the written statement that he was writing the letter because Horton was illiterate.
At the end of the statement, filed in the court records, are signed names of the cellmate and Horton.
In the statement, Horton admits to the killing, but under much different circumstances than his original confession.
Horton claimed he and his wife were having relationship difficulties and she and her brother, Wright, were staying with Adam Horton. Christopher Horton claimed he quietly sneaked into his brother’s house and saw the three of them naked and engaged in sexual activity. He claimed he walked back to the front of the trailer, sat on a couch and began crying at which time he saw a knife on the table. He picked up the knife, walked back into the room and argued with his brother at which time he stabbed the brother.
He claimed, in the statement, to have walked back to the other room and cleaned off the knife. He said he eventually left telling his wife and her brother he would see them back at their house.
deMahy has not ruled on whether the statement will be admitted into evidence at the trial.
During the investigation, detectives called for a diver at Wilson’s Landing and were able to retrieve a sheathed knife allegedly used in the killing, the arrest affidavit said.
After a Dec. 3, 2009, sanity commission evaluation, Horton was sent to a state mental facility in an attempt to help Horton attain mental competency to assist in his trial. Records from Horton’s evaluation portrayed him as mildly retarded with a history of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type.
He reported mental problems since the age of 11 when he said he tried to kill himself with pills and was admitted to a hospital for three weeks, the evaluation records state. He reported a second suicide attempt with pills at the age of 18. He reported visual hallucinations at the age of 16 and being hospitalized for four weeks.
The evaluation mentions “voluminous” records of medical treatment, including for mental disorders. There were at least three psychiatric admissions to Terrebonne General Medical Center/Psychiatric Services where in 2004 he was described as “very paranoid, gravely disabled.”
He was seen at Teche Regional Medical Center on April 9, 2006, after an apparent suicide attempt with a drug overdose, the evaluation stated.
Horton was one of two prisoners who escaped from the St. Mary Parish jail in Centerville earlier this year and were captured in Lafayette. He was sentenced March 26 after pleading guilty to simple escape, to three years at hard labor by deMahy for his Feb. 2 escape with accused thief, Joshua Folks, 36.