Man found murdered set to testify in own shooting case

Man found murdered set to testify in own shooting case

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The man found burned after being shot and killed was supposed to testify in court this week, against a man charged with trying to kill him twice already.

Gavonte Lampkin's body was found burned after police say he and his girlfriend were shot and killed, last month. This, after surviving two previous shootings.

November 18, 2016, he was rushed to the hospital shot multiple times.

Police say 29-year-old Christopher Butler is one of the men responsible. He was already charged with second degree murder for shooting at Lampkin months earlier.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office believes the second shooting was meant to shut up Lampkin for the one that happened in June 2016. So, prosecutors charged Butler with attempted second degree murder again and added intimidation of a witness.

"We are very, very concerned about trying to keep the witnesses out of harms way," said Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

Cannizzaro says his office reaches out to victims and witnesses, offering resources like counseling, help for substance abuse, job training and educational opportunities. Yet, for victims and witnesses of violent crimes, there's also relocation.

"Sometimes within the city of New Orleans is all it takes. Sometimes we will relocate them to another parish and, on rare occasions, we will relocate them outside of the state of Louisiana," Cannizzaro explained.

"It is nowhere approaching what most people consider witness protection," said Rafael Goyeneche, President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

That is, there's no change of identify or cross-country relocation and job placement. Goyeneche says the reason is valid.

"No city can afford to provide the resources the way the federal government does, probably for no more than a couple of dozen cases per year," Goyeneche said.

Goyeneche says, right now, there are 150 murder cases waiting to be prosecuted.

Even so, Cannizzaro says the witness and victim assistance program has been effective for those who take advantage of it.

"Mr. Lampkin appeared to be interested, at first, then subsequently declined to participate in the program and just simply broke off contact with the victim witness counselor. As a result of that, unfortunately, he was unable to receive the benefits of the program and this did end very tragically for him," Cannizzaro said.

"It doesn't benefit us at all for him to disappear because he's the one person who can come in and say these allegations are not true," said Christopher Butler's attorney Gregory Carter.

Carter argues his client has no reason to hurt Lampkin or even retaliate because he never shot him in the first place.

"Their case is kind of centered around Mr. Lampkin and his ability to testify in court. What I've always heard is that Mr. Lampkin took back his initial accusations against my client," Carter explained.

Lampkin was set to testify as a witness in his own shooting in the second degree murder trial against Butler. It was supposed to start Wednesday but has since been postponed due to Lampkin's death.

"We want to be in court. We want him to take the witness stand. We want him to be able to tell, not just the 12 jurors that will be in the box, but the entire city of New Orleans, the entire state of Louisiana that my client didn't have anything to do with this," said Carter.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Spokesperson, Ken Daley, says it would be imprudent for defense counsel to speculate as to what the victim's testimony would entail. He declined further comment citing open status of the case.