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US appeals court overturns 3rd conviction in boy’s death

May 16, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court has overturned a Louisiana man’s third conviction in the 1992 killing of a 6-year-old boy, calling the case “heartrending” but saying the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy should have prevented the third trial.

District Attorney John DeRosier said Wednesday he’ll either ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the Calcasieu Parish case against Ricky Langley or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to keep this individual in prison. We’re confident if he gets out of prison he will kill somebody again. He said he would,” DeRosier said.

A judge on Wednesday ordered Langley held without bond until further federal court rulings in the death of Jeremy Guillory in the small southwest Louisiana town of Iowa (EYE-oh-way).

Defense attorney Richard Bourque declined comment.

Langley made three videotaped confessions to strangling Guillory, giving different accounts about whether he beckoned Guillory inside, sexually abused him, or did so before or after strangling him, 5th Circuit Judge Stephen A. Higginson wrote for the three-judge panel, referring to the child by his initials.

During the first confession, it said, Langley told a police officer he was still trying to figure out why he had killed the boy. The ruling quoted him as saying, “It’s like, I know I did it, but yet it’s like something you read in a newspaper.”

He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1994, but the verdict was overturned because a judge had chosen the grand jury’s foreperson by race.

In 2003, a jury convicted him of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence, rather than first-degree murder. That verdict was overturned because of judicial misconduct.

Langley waived his right to a jury trial in 2009. A judge convicted him, rejecting double-jeopardy arguments.

Monday’s ruling said the first-degree murder acquittal also prevented retrial for second-degree murder, because either required proof that Langley meant to kill or seriously injure Guillory.

Jurors in 2003 were told that a first-degree murder conviction required that they find that Langley killed Guillory, that he was less than 12 years old and that he “had specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm.” Since there was no question about the first two, they had to have found that he didn’t mean to kill or seriously injure the child, the 5th Circuit reasoned.

The panel said jurors in 2003 were told that they could also convict Langley of second-degree murder if he was found guilty of killing the child while committing other crimes. However, prosecutors dropped that claim in 2009, saying they had found that second-degree kidnapping and cruelty to juveniles were not on the list of such crimes when Guillory was killed.

The 5th Circuit said that left only specific intent as a possible reason for convicting Langley of second-degree murder. And since jurors had to have found that he didn’t have such intent, he could not be tried again on the charge.

He could be prosecuted for crimes not requiring that proof, they said.

DeRosier said he’s considering sex and manslaughter charges against Langley.

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