- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

MARKSVILLE, La. (AP) - A man who was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm will get a new trial because outside information about a homicide swayed an Avoyelles Parish that convicted him, an appeals court decided.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in November ordered a new trial for Latracus Henry, the Alexandria Daily Town Talk reports (https://townta.lk/1Im08mT). Henry was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Henry had been charged initially with second-degree murder in the 2013 shooting death of Bunkie resident Dana Schenk, but he wasn’t tried on that charge and information about Schenk’s death wasn’t admitted at trial.

Nevertheless, jurors found out about Schenk’s death.

During deliberations, jurors sent Judge Mark A. Jeansonne of the 12th Judicial District Court a note, asking whether information discussed about Schenk’s death disqualified them from the case.

Based upon jurors’ evident knowledge of the incident, the defense asked for a mistrial, but Jeansonne instead wrote the jurors a reminder that they only could consider evidence entered during the trial.

According to a court transcript, one unidentified juror said the jury should have been disqualified because the information about Schenk influenced many jurors’ opinions.

The appeals court panel of judges agreed.

“The trial court’s failure to ensure the jury’s continuing impartiality, coupled with the fact that the jurors themselves believed disqualification may have been warranted, shows actual prejudice to the defendant that made a fair trial impossible,” Chief Judge Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux wrote in the opinion.

Information on whether a new trial date has been set wasn’t immediately available, according to a representative with the district attorney’s office.


Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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