Friday, July 25
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A defense lawyer told a judge Friday that there is evidence that the lone suspect in a shooting spree along New Orleans' famed Bourbon Street fired his gun in self-defense and didn't fire the shot that killed a 21-year-old bystander.
Magistrate Harry Cantrell refused to move the preliminary hearing for 20-year-old Trung Le. He will remain jailed without bond at least until the Aug. 26 hearing, during which prosecutors and defense lawyers are expected to argue over whether there is probable cause to continue holding him pending formal charges by a grand jury or the District Attorney's Office.
"If the court has this information it might very well determine there's no probable cause," defense lawyer Martin Regan told Cantrell.
In addition to a single first-degree murder count, Le is being held on nine counts of attempted first-degree murder — one for each person wounded when the shooting spree turned the party atmosphere on the well-known street of restaurants, strip clubs and bars into one of panic. Bond on each of those counts has been set at $500,000.
Police have said Le is suspected of firing the first shot. They continue to look for a second shooter.
Defense attorney Martin Regan told reporters his team of lawyers knows of witnesses who have said they saw a drunken man pull a handgun and fire as people wandered the still-open nightspots. He also said there is video evidence that Le did not fire the bullet that killed Brittany Thomas of Hammond.
Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue said the Aug. 26 hearing was legally set and that there is nothing entitling Le to a faster one. She several times cast doubt on claims that there is evidence that could result in him being exonerated or freed. And she invited him to give a statement.
"If he thinks he's sitting there because he's acted in self-defense and-or he has an alibi, I'm all ears," she said as Le sat nearby, shackled and dressed in an orange prison suit. Rodrigue said that victims and their families are entitled to proper notice of a hearing in case they want to attend. In addition to the family of Thomas, who was from a Louisiana city roughly a 60-mile drive from New Orleans, those injured in the shooting spree included people from other states and one from Australia.
Regan said he will appeal Cantrell's decision regarding the hearing date, along with earlier rulings that Le is not entitled to subpoena video evidence from French Quarter bar owners.