Trial set in double slaying

Devin Parker is helped out of a van Monday at state district court by East Baton Rouge Sheriff Lt. Joseph Brandon. Jury selection started Monday in Parker's second-degree murder trial. Show caption
Devin Parker is helped out of a van Monday at state district court by East Baton Rouge Sheriff Lt. Joseph Brandon. Jury selection started Monday in Parker's second-degree murder trial.

BR man indicted in deaths of LSU graduate students

Jury selection is slated to begin Monday in a double-murder case that sent shockwaves across the LSU campus three and a half years ago and made international headlines.

Devin Jamell Parker, 22, of Baton Rouge, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of LSU graduate students Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31, and Kiran Kumar Allam, 33, both of India.

Allam’s pregnant wife found the men’s bodies inside Allam’s Edward Gay apartment on Dec. 13, 2007, officials investigating the case said. Both men were shot in the head and one was bound.

Parker and two other Baton Rouge men — Casey Gathers and Michael Lewis — were booked in May 2008 in the killings, but only Parker was indicted four months later.

An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury neither indicted nor cleared Gathers and Lewis. They were released from Parish Prison in September 2008.

An arrest warrant says Parker identified Gathers, now 23, as the triggerman and also told police he and Lewis, now 22, were involved in the crime.

“I’m glad the trial date is finally here. This is our first step,’’ District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Friday.

“Our plan is to convict this man and hopefully develop other information’’ to indict and convict the other two men, he added.

Parker’s attorney, Jim Holt, declined comment last week.

State District Judge Chip Moore refused to suppress Parker’s videotaped admission that he was with Gathers and Lewis when they forced the graduate students into a campus apartment before they were fatally shot.

Parker admitted in statements to authorities that he was inside the Edward Gay apartment and watched one of the students cry out for help moments before he was shot while trying to flee.

Parker said in the statements that he ran from the apartment with that student’s wallet and a Nextel cellphone he found in the apartment and was outside when the second student was shot.

He said he threw the wallet away, but kept the $40 it contained.

Parker accused Lewis of taking the second man’s wallet, which contained $80. He said the money was split up.

Holt previously argued that Parker was high on drugs when he gave the statements, and that the statements were not freely and voluntarily given.

Holt also has cited extensive pretrial publicity in claiming that a fair and impartial jury cannot be picked in East Baton Rouge Parish. Holt has requested a change of venue.

The judge has deferred ruling on the motion until jury selection is under way.

A second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.

Komma was a biology student from Kurnool, India. Allam was a chemistry student from Hyderabad, India.

Lewis is under arrest on first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges in a Feb. 13 shooting that killed a 14-year-old boy while the boy was buying candy from a home on St. Gerard Avenue. A 17-year-old boy also was wounded in the incident.