- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - A state judge has ruled the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office can serve subpoenas in a Lockport triple murder case, even though it employs a victim’s mother.

The Daily Comet reports (https://bit.ly/1FvQrB5) attorneys for David Brown, 37, of Houma, filed a motion Sept. 4 asking that the defense team’s investigators be allowed to serve subpoenas for the trial and any other hearings. State District Judge John LeBlanc denied the motion, saying he was not going to update the law to fulfill the request.

Brown is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 4, 2012, stabbings of 29-year-old Jacquelin Nieves and her daughters, 7-year-old Gabriela and 1-year-old Izabela. He is also accused of raping Jacquelin and Gabriela and setting the family’s Lockport apartment on fire to cover up the killings.

First Assistant District Attorney Kristine Russell said in Friday’s hearing that Jacquelin Nieves’ mother is the food service director at the sheriff’s office’s transitional work program. She argued that the defense hadn’t presented any specific ways the woman’s employment might affect the case.

“The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated this case, and nobody has had a problem with it,” she told LeBlanc. “They did their job.”

Kerry Cuccia, of the New Orleans-based Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, admitted the woman’s employment hasn’t caused any issues so far but told LeBlanc he filed the motion “out of an abundance of caution.”

The judge also heard from the attorneys regarding a letter from the defense team’s victim outreach coordinator, Jean Handley, to Jacquelin Nieves’ mother. LeBlanc said the letter incorrectly stated Handley was court-appointed and that the letter had been sent on a petition from Cuccia.

LeBlanc said Cuccia must file a motion if he wants a victim outreach coordinator but that it may not be Handley because “she’s untruthful.”

“You can call it a mistake, but there are two untruths in the letter,” he told Cuccia.

Cuccia said the letter may have been sent to several people, so LeBlanc issued a protective order against Handley. A hearing is expected on the matter.

“I don’t want any more communication without a court order,” the judge said.

Brown’s trial is set for April 4.

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Information from: Daily Comet, https://www.dailycomet.com

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