An empty .38-caliber revolver and another gun were found in a garbage can at a house where Leandre Bell and Farrenton Joshua were located shortly after the body of former Police Chief Jeff LeDuff’s brother-in-law was discovered nearby, police testified Tuesday.
Prosecutor Melissa Morvant told jurors in her opening statement earlier in the day that Christopher Jason Domingue and Erika Turner both were shot to death in 2010 — Turner on July 27 and Domingue on Sept. 4 — with a .38-caliber handgun.
Bell, 24, of Baton Rouge, is standing trial in state court on two counts of second-degree murder in the slayings of Turner and Domingue, one count of armed robbery in an incident that occurred an hour before Domingue was killed, and three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Prosecutors contend Bell was the triggerman in both killings. In Louisiana, a second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.
Joshua, 23, pleaded guilty in March to accessory charges in both slayings and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Turner, 44, was found lying on the sidewalk on Yorktown Street with multiple gunshot wounds, police have said.
Domingue, 45, was found near his bicycle in the middle of West Roosevelt Street, also with several gunshot wounds. Police have said Bell and Joshua tried to rob Domingue while he rode his bike.
Dr. Bruce Wainer, chief forensic pathologist with the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, testified that Turner was shot five times, including three times in the abdomen, and Domingue was shot four times, including once in the head.
The majority of the prosecution’s case Tuesday focused on the Domingue slaying. LeDuff was in the courtroom, as were other relatives of Domingue. Relatives of Turner also were present.
Officer Doug Chutz testified he responded to West Roosevelt Street at 5:15 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2010, after reports of shots fired in the area and found Domingue’s body near the railroad tracks between Nicholson Drive and River Road. Shortly after arriving there, Chutz said he saw a dark-colored, four-door compact car leave the area at a high rate of speed with its headlights off.
Officer Jake Chutz, no relation to Doug Chutz, testified he located a blue Dodge Neon a few blocks away on Indiana Street. The car was unoccupied but the hood was still hot from the engine running recently, he said.
Jake Chutz said a woman told him that her brother, Joshua, had used the car that night and that he could be found at his grandmother’s home nearby on Indiana. The officer said Joshua and Bell both were found at the house.
Cpl. Bryan Ballard, a police detective, testified he found an empty .38-caliber revolver and a .40-caliber handgun in a trash can inside the house.
The lone armed robbery count accuses Bell of robbing Demarcus Collins at a South Acadian Thruway hotel on Sept. 4, 2010.
Collins, however, testified Tuesday he does not remember being robbed or calling 911 to report the robbery. He said he was “full of drugs’’ at the time.
“Do you not remember, or do you not want to be a rat?’’ prosecutor Adam Haney asked. “Do you not remember, or do you not want to cooperate?’’
Bo Rougeou, one of Bell’s attorneys, objected and stated, “I believe Mr. Haney is arguing with his own witness.’’
Collins, who denied knowing Bell or seeing him in prison, insisted he does not recall that night. Collins also said he does not recall picking Bell out of a six-person photographic lineup or taking just one second to do so.
A blue Dodge Neon also was seen leaving the scene of the alleged robbery of Collins, Morvant noted.
Bell was convicted of aggravated battery, a felony, in 2005 in state district court in Baton Rouge, she said.
The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday. State District Judge Tony Marabella is presiding.