Preliminary procedures to qualify pool of 150 prospective jurors
About 150 East Baton Rouge Parish residents will converge Monday on the 19th Judicial District Courthouse for possible jury duty in the highly publicized and much-anticipated first-degree murder trial of nationally acclaimed Baton Rouge rapper Torrence “Lil Boosie’’ Hatch.
The prospective jurors will attend an orientation, fill out questionnaires and receive preliminary instructions from state District Judge Mike Erwin, who will preside over the trial.
Potential jurors will not be questioned in the courtroom until Tuesday when the jury selection process is expected to begin in earnest.
The jury will be anonymous, meaning the 12 jurors and any alternate jurors will be identified in court and in court documents only by number. The jury will also be sequestered and security at the courthouse and in the courtroom will be heavy.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, meaning Hatch would be sentenced to life in prison if convicted as charged in the murder-for-hire of Terry Boyd, 35.
Hatch, 29, 1132 Pompey Drive, is accused of paying Michael “Marlo Mike’’ Louding to kill Boyd, who was shot to death through a window while he was inside his Vermillion Drive home Oct. 21, 2009. Louding, who was 17 at the time, is charged with first-degree murder in the killing, but is not eligible for the death penalty because of his age.
Adrian Pittman, 38, of Baton Rouge, also is charged with first-degree murder in Boyd’s death.
Hatch, Louding and Pittman have pleaded not guilty.
Jason Williams, one of Hatch’s attorneys, said Hatch is “ready for his day in court.’’
Louding, 19, of Baton Rouge, will testify at the trial, prosecutor Dana Cummings has said. Louding’s attorney, Margaret Lagattuta, has said Louding wants to testify.
Louding is charged in five other killings over a 14-month span, beginning with the Feb. 9, 2009, shooting death of local up-and-coming rapper Chris “Nussie” Jackson, and ending with the April 1, 2010, double-murder of Charles Matthews and Darryl “Bleek” Milton.
He is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Jackson; Marcus Thomas on April 25, 2009; and Matthews and Milton.
He also is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Michael Smith on Dec. 18, 2009.
Louding was 16 at the time of Jackson’s and Thomas’ deaths.
Hatch pleaded guilty in November to charges that accused him of conspiring to smuggle drugs and other illegal contraband into Dixon
Correctional Institute and the Louisiana State Penitentiary. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
At the time of his plea, Hatch already was imprisoned on a third-offense marijuana possession charge from East Baton Rouge Parish.
He is currently being held at the state penitentiary in Angola. His attorneys want him moved to East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for the trial.
Once Cummings begins presenting the state’s case, jurors will hear some of Hatch’s violence-laden rap lyrics. Erwin last week gave his permission for the lyrics to be played at the trial.
Hatch’s attorneys are appealing the ruling. Cummings told the judge she considers some of Hatch’s rap lyrics “admissions’’ and will use them to demonstrate Hatch’s “intent, motive and plan.’’
Williams and fellow Hatch attorney Martin Regan argue the lyrics have nothing to do with the case and prove only that Hatch is a rap artist.
In one of Hatch’s songs, titled “187,’’ he refers to himself as the John Gotti of the south side and says, “I’m the reason the murder rate sky high.’’ He also says, “Whoever try to play me, they dead now.’’
Elvin Howard, Baton Rouge police detective, testified last week at a pretrial hearing that “187’’ is California police code for murder.
Louding is mentioned in several of Hatch’s songs and is pictured in at least two of his videos on YouTube. In the song “Lime Light,’’ Hatch states, “Marlo Mike up in the back seat beggin’ for a body.’’
Hatch’s attorneys asked Erwin last fall to disqualify East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III’s office from prosecuting the murder case, alleging Moore has a “personal interest’’ in the case because some of the lyrics authorities seized from Hatch’s home in 2010 contain disparaging remarks about the district attorney.
The judge rejected the defense request. Moore has denied the allegation.