- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A former New Orleans police officer convicted for burning the body of a man shot to death by another officer as the city coped with catastrophic flooding following Hurricane Katrina may get some time shaved off his 17-year prison sentence.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that a recent Supreme Court ruling in another case involving destruction of records requires that one obstruction charge against former officer Gregory McRae be thrown out. The court refused to grant him a new trial, however.

McRae remains convicted on two other charges in the burning of a car with Henry Glover’s body inside it. The 5th Circuit said the federal judge in McRae’s case will have to hold a new sentencing hearing.

Glover was shot at a strip mall being guarded by police four days after Katrina hit in 2005. Although five people were originally tried in the case, McRae is now the only one convicted.

The appeals court threw out McRae’s conviction dealing with altering or destroying “any record, document, or tangible object” with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation. The 5th Circuit said the burning of Glover’s car and body cannot be considered destruction of a “tangible object” in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling. That unrelated case involved a Florida fisherman, Captain John Yates, who, the court decided, was wrongly prosecuted for destroying evidence after he dumped some undersized grouper off his boat. The justices who ruled in Yates’ favor said the law under which he was convicted was meant to preserve financial records, not fish.

McRae’s appeal for a new trial involved arguments that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome when he set the car ablaze. He also argued that anonymous online comments by a federal prosecutor may have prejudiced the jury. The court said the prosecutors were not part of the McRae prosecution team.

Former officer David Warren was initially convicted on a federal manslaughter charge, but he won a new trial when an appeals court said he should have been tried separately from four other former officers charged in the cover-up of Glover’s death.

Warren was acquitted after testifying he feared for his life when he shot Glover. He said he thought he saw a gun in Glover’s hand as Glover and another man ran toward the building he was guarding.

An officer convicted of writing a false report on the incident had his conviction thrown out after new evidence surfaced. Two other officers were acquitted.

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