Equipment requested by defense
What was expected to be a routine court hearing involving computer equipment seized from rapper Torence “Lil Boosie” Hatch’s home in 2010 escalated Thursday into a heated exchange between a prosecutor and the judge who presided last month over a murder trial at which Hatch was acquitted.
The prosecutor, Dana Cummings, said afterward she will seek to have state District Judge Mike Erwin disqualified from presiding over the cases of two other men — Michael Louding and Adrian Pittman — charged with murder in the case involving Hatch.
Hatch attorneys Jason Williams and Nicole Burdett came into Erwin’s courtroom Thursday to request the return of computers and computer equipment that authorities confiscated during a June 4, 2010, search of Hatch’s then-Pompey Drive residence. Erwin ultimately denied the request.
Cummings had objected to the request, saying, “I am going to use the evidence from the computers in two other trials.’’ She was referring to the Louding and Pittman trials. Louding is accused of killing Terry Boyd on Vermillion Drive in 2009 at the behest of Hatch; Pittman is the alleged getaway driver.
Hatch was found not guilty May 11 in Boyd’s murder, four days after Louding recanted what he had told authorities in 2010 and testified that he and Hatch had nothing to do with Boyd’s murder. Erwin presided over Hatch’s trial.
Louding also denied any involvement in the killing of five other people after allegedly telling authorities in 2010 that he killed six people.
Despite Louding’s testimony at the Hatch trial, Cummings told Erwin on Thursday that the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the 19-year-old Louding “to the fullest” and will start by trying him in the killing of Boyd.
Erwin appeared to suggest that such a trial would be a waste of the court’s time.
“He only killed six people,” a stunned Cummings replied.
“Why don’t you get one you can prove?’’ the judge continued.
“You running for office today?’’ the prosecutor shot back.
“No,” Erwin answered after demanding that Cummings repeat her last remark. “If I was I wouldn’t be insulting you, which I probably shouldn’t have done.”
Erwin said Thursday afternoon he intends to apologize to Cummings in open court Friday and hopes she will accept his apology.
“It was done through some anger at other things, and I took it out on her when I shouldn’t have,” Erwin said.
Louding’s testimony at the Hatch trial caused prosecutors on Monday to drop a first-degree charge against Jared Williams, of Baton Rouge, in the April 2009 shooting death of Marcus Thomas on West McKinley Street. Louding previously implicated Williams in the killing.
Cummings indicated Tuesday that murder charges in at least one other case could also be dropped as a result of Louding’s recantation.
Meanwhile, on the issue of the seized Hatch computers, Cummings said after court that a complete copy of what was on the computer hard drives was turned over to Hatch’s attorneys more than a year ago.
Burdett, however, said the computers contain software that allow for the recording of music.
“It’s his business. It’s his livelihood,” Jason Williams, the attorney for Hatch, explained outside Erwin’s courtroom. “It’s like a lawyer’s law books or a doctor’s equipment.”
Prosecutors contended at Hatch’s trial that violence- and expletive-laden lyrics recorded by Hatch in his home just before and immediately after Boyd’s killing refer to the slaying. Those lyrics refer to “Marlo.”
Hatch’s attorneys argued that Boyd’s name is not mentioned in the lyrics and claimed the music had nothing to do with the crime.
Hatch, 29, is imprisoned at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola on drug charges.