Man convicted of 2014 mass shooting in New Orleans walks free after second trial

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 5:19 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A previously convicted killer is now a free man after being afforded the opportunity to a second trial following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that non-unanimous jury votes were unconstitutional.

Police in August of 2014 said two men, Blair Taylor and Joseph Nelson, opened fire on a group of people before speeding off in what many called the Burgundy Massacre.

Jasmine Anderson, 16, and Terrance McBride, 33, were pronounced dead at the scene. Five other victims were wounded, including two young brothers, ages 2 and 4, who were both shot in the head.

Jasmine Anderson (Source: Victim's relative)
Jasmine Anderson (Source: Victim's relative)

“I just broke down because I’ve never seen so much death,” says Diamond Powell.

“This was one of the most high-profile murders and it was a mass shooting,” says Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

The case went to trial in 2017, and it took a jury just three hours to convict Taylor and Nelson of murder by an 11-1 jury vote.

The men were locked up until the high court’s Ramos decision in 2020 gave them a chance at a new trial.

5400 block of Burgundy St. (FOX 8 Photo)
5400 block of Burgundy St. (FOX 8 Photo)

“The only difference between 11-1 and 12-0, would have been if the judge would have ordered them to deliberate until there was a unanimous verdict. It probably would have been a unanimous verdict, but that wasn’t the law at that time,” says Goyeneche.

Now, eight years after the shooting, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams offered Nelson a plea deal of 30 years for manslaughter. He accepted that deal. Taylor, however, did not accept the deal and instead chose to go to trial.

“Eight years later, one of the eye-witnesses is deceased, so the prosecution’s case has weakened. Because of that, when it was presented to a jury last week, the jury deliberated and decided he wasn’t guilty. They decided that the state did not meet its burden of proof,” says Goyeneche.

Taylor was found not guilty on Fri., Oct. 21, and walked free.

More: Ban on non-unanimous jury verdicts will not be retroactively enforced, La. Supreme Court rules

“It’s not to any fault of the District Attorney’s Office and not to any fault of the police department,” says Goyeneche.

Goyeneche says cases deteriorate over time, and it can be extremely difficult to re-try a case like this. He calls it a by-product of the Ramos decision.

The D.A.’s office released this statement:

“The passage of each day, week, month, and year makes trying a case increasingly challenging due to the fading recollection of witnesses and evidence becoming more stale. Re-trying a case that has already been tried adds another degree of difficulty because the defense attorney has a blueprint of the prosecutor’s theory of the case. The defendant in this case, Blair Taylor, was indicted all the way back in 2014. We firmly believe that he is responsible for this horrific crime, but we certainly respect the jury’s decision and thank the jurors for their service. We are also deeply appreciative to the survivors and witnesses who came forward after all these years to help us in our effort to hold this defendant accountable. As expected, the Supreme Court’s decision in Ramos has resulted in more, older cases for our office to resolve - but we will not be deterred from re-prosecuting these cases, and doing so fairly and constitutionally. "

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