NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A judge has overturned the conviction and death penalty of a man accused in one of the city's most high-profile murder cases.
Rogers LaCaze will get a new trial.
Prosecutors argued LaCaze and former New Orleans Police Department Officer Antoinette Frank killed her partner and two workers at a restaurant in eastern New Orleans in 1995.
Frank testified LaCaze was her accomplice, and court records show he used the slain officer's credit card right after the killings.
LaCaze said it was a case of mistaken identity.
In Thursday's ruling, ad hoc Judge Michael Kirby said he found evidence of LaCaze's overwhelming guilt, but found sufficient grounds for retrial, including how LaCaze's now-deceased attorney, Willie Turk, defended his client. A police officer also sat on the jury that convicted LaCaze, which was not allowed at the time.
"Despite the fact that Mr. LaCaze (and) his attorneys made a multitude of claims, it appears that Judge Kirby only found legal merit in a single claim, namely that a law-enforcement officer serve on the jury," Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said in a statement. "With respect to his ruling on that issue, the DA's office respectfully disagrees and we intend to seek appellate review."
Kirby did not set a retrial date. LaCaze, who was charged with first-degree murder, will remain in jail until his retrial.