Pal's Lounge murder trial gets off to dramatic start - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Pal's Lounge murder trial gets off to dramatic start

Murder victim Nia Robertson Murder victim Nia Robertson

The murder trial of a man accused of killing one woman and stabbing another at a Mid-City bar began with a medical emergency.

An assistant district attorney suffered a medical condition in the courtroom, prompting the defense to ask for a mistrial.

The drama unfolded Thursday morning. Shortly after the medical emergency, Judge Karen Herman ordered the courtroom be cleared. Then defense attorney Jeffrey Smith asked for a mistrial. Herman denied that request.

Defendant Eric Traczyk is on trial for allegedly killing 28-year-old Nia Robertson on August 15, 2007 inside Pal's Lounge in Mid-City. Prosecutors say Traczyk first stabbed Ryan Pasternak inside the bar, then stabbed Robertson.

In opening statements Thursday, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro told the jury, "At the end of this proceeding... there won't be any doubt in your mind who's responsible for the death of Nia Robertson and stabbing of Ryan Pasternak."

Traczyk, according to his attorney, has a history of mental illness. Defense attorney Jeffrey Smith told jurors Traczyk cannot distinguish right from wrong. That's part of the reason he is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Several witnesses were called to the stand Thursday, including a former NOPD detective, one of the first people to respond to the crime scene.   But some of the most compelling statements were made by the attorneys themselves.

Cannizzaro described Robertson as a young woman known and loved by many in the community.

Trying to support his claim that Traczyk didn't know right from wrong, Smith asked the jury, "Is there any logical reason other than psychosis to stab a total stranger?" 

Testimony will resume Friday.

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