- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - An appeals court has affirmed the second-degree murder and obstruction of justice convictions of an Oberlin man accused in the stabbing death of his estranged wife.

The American Press reports (https://bit.ly/1eOXZNb) the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld the convictions and sentences of Joseph Eric Vercher, 46, in the June 2013 slaying of Rachel Denise Lambert Vercher.

An Allen Parish jury convicted Vercher of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice in September. The jury rejected defense claims that Vercher should be convicted of manslaughter because the crime was committed in the “heat of passion” after a night of arguing and drinking.

District Judge Joel Davis sentenced Vercher to life imprisonment in the slaying. He received an additional 10 years for obstruction of justice for removing items, including the victim’s purse, cellphone and wedding ring, from the crime scene and tossing the two knives used in the slaying.

Vercher told authorities he stabbed the victim and hid her body in a field north of Oberlin, because he “did not want anyone to see her like that.” He told police he “just snapped” and could not remember how many times he stabbed her, but later led investigators to the body and murder weapons.

After Vercher’s convictions, he filed a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict. He said the evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdict of second-degree murder and that he should have been found guilty of manslaughter. He said he was provoked into stabbing her after two years of physical abuse.

He also said the evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdict of obstruction of justice and that the trial court erred when it permitted prejudicial, post-mortem photographs of the victim to be shown to the jury. The appellate court found no merit to Vercher’s claims and upheld both the convictions and sentences.

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Information from: American Press, https://www.americanpress.com


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