Louisiana news briefs
Judge dismisses charges in Katrina cover-up death
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday threw out charges against a former New Orleans policeman who faced a retrial next month on charges he helped cover up a deadly police shooting after Hurricane Katrina.
Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Lance Africk to dismiss the case against former Lt. Travis McCabe, who was convicted of writing a false report on the shooting of 31-year-old Henry Glover, and he did so “with prejudice.”
Africk had ordered a new trial for McCabe based on evidence that surfaced after his conviction. It was scheduled to begin March 10.
Attorneys for McCabe did not immediately return a telephone call or email requesting comment about Africk’s ruling.
There is now just one former officer, Gregory McRae, who remains convicted in the case.
McRae was found guilty in 2010 of burning Glover’s body in a car after a good Samaritan drove the dying man to a makeshift police compound. Africk sentenced McRae to more than 17 years in prison.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld McRae’s conviction but ordered Africk to resentence him. Resentencing is set for March 13.
Lafayette bank robbed
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Lafayette police say a masked man held up a Chase Bank branch and fled with the cash.
Cpl. Paul Mouton says a teller told detectives that a man who brandished no weapon demanded cash Thursday morning.
No injuries were reported.
Police say the robber was wearing a tan shirt and blue jeans.
Judge delays trial
of investigator in DWI case
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A federal judge has agreed to delay the trial of a Lafayette private investigator accused of setting up a scheme to bribe 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office employees for favorable treatment for DWI defendants.
Robert Williamson was set to go to trial in March, but U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote delayed it to Aug. 18, citing concerns from Williamson’s defense attorney about the volume of evidence that needs to be reviewed in the case.
Foote already had granted a prior delay in the case, moving the trial from its original date in December until March to give Williamson time to seek medical care.
Five people, including three former employees of the District Attorney’s Office, already have pleaded guilty in a federal probe of the bribes.
Man found guilty of 2 counts of first-degree murder
AMITE (AP) — Tangipahoa Parish jurors have found an Independence man guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.
Giles McGhee, 51, was accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend, 36-year-old Tamica Muse, and her boyfriend, 39-year-old Karum Smith, as they slept in their Hammond apartment on April 5, 2012.
The jury deliberated for about an hour Thursday before returning a guilty verdict by an 11-1 vote.
Under state law, only 10 guilty votes were needed to convict McGhee.
McGhee was eligible for the death penalty, but the state took that possibility off the table.
Instead, he faces two life sentences.
LCTCS to build new campuses
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Although funding for construction of $250 million in structures won’t be available for almost 18 months, The Louisiana Community and Technical College System is taking preliminary steps to be ready when the money can be used.
The Legislature in 2013 approved an act, which supplies money to build new campuses in Alexandria, Ruston and Jennings and a total of 29 structures across much of the state. Those structures include a $17 million allied health and science building at South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette.
Joe May, president of the LCTCS system, says it will take about a year to determine locations and facilities.
The state is paying 80 percent of the cost of the facilities and local industries and businesses are to contribute 20 percent.
Ice, snow again hits
south, north Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — For the third time in as many weeks, ice fell Thursday from gray winter skies over southeast Louisiana and snowflakes hit some areas farther north.
But unlike last week’s freezing-rain storm — which shut down most of the coastal parishes for several days — so far the frozen stuff was limited to sleet and no road closings were reported. At least one north-central Louisiana school district closed early, however.
National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Efferson said the Slidell office has fielded calls about snow and sleet in various southeast communities. In Sabine Parish, experts said a light snow fell Thursday morning but quickly melted.
Efferson said the back-to-back weather events in southeast Louisiana are extremely unusual.
“Normally we’d have maybe two in a year,” he said. “Generally there’s a less than 5 percent chance to get this kind of weather.”
Efferson said January, on average, was the eighth coldest for the Gulf South. “It’s been about 30 years since it’s been this cold for this long,” he said.
Longer school days ahead
for Baton Rouge students
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A longer school day is in store for East Baton Rouge Parish school students to make up for the four lost due to icy, snowy weather in January.
Students will spend an extra 30 minutes in school starting Monday and lasting for about a month. In addition, school will be held on two days that students had been scheduled to have off — March 5, which is Ash Wednesday, and March 14, which was supposed to be a teacher training day.
Maness reports raising $240,000 for U.S. Senate race
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness says he raised more than $240,000 in the most recent fundraising quarter for the race.
That’s far below the $1.4 million haul of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu and the $1 million brought in by another of her GOP challengers, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy.
But Maness, a retired Air Force colonel and tea party supporter who has never run for office, said his fundraising total showed momentum, because he more than doubled the donor contributions from the prior quarter.
Maness said his report filed with the Federal Elections Commission shows his campaign had nearly $132,000 on hand, after the period that ran from October through December.
The election is set for Nov. 4. Landrieu is seeking re-election to a fourth term.
Teen indicted for murder in flea market shooting
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A grand jury has indicted the Lafayette teenager suspected of killing an Arnaudville man Sunday night.
The 15-year-old was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Michael Patin at a flea market.
Lafayette Parish sheriff’s Capt. Kip Judice said the 49-year-old Patin was shot in the back as he investigated a possible vehicle theft at the Jockey Lot flea market just after 11 p.m. Sunday.
The Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office presented the case to a grand jury on Wednesday.
District Attorney Michael Harson said Monday that he probably would charge the teen as an adult.
The teen is being held without bond at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center