Grand jury cuts 2 murder cases

A Lafayette Parish grand jury voted not to move forward with murder charges against two men in separate killings earlier this year.

Carl James Phillips, 32, of Lafayette, faced a second-degree murder charge in the July 28 death of John Joseph Dean, 20, of Baton Rouge.

Elwood Billiot, 29, of New Iberia, faced a first-degree murder charge in the April 12 death of 73-year-old Sydney Touchet.

The grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict either man on the murder charges.

The grand jury’s decision might bring to a close the case against Phillips.

“It’s the end of the case right now unless they (detectives) come up with more evidence,” Prosecutor Ronald Dauterive said.

Police found Dean lying in the yard of Phillips’ Goldman Street home, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Phillips, in a voluntary statement given to detectives, told police that he did not know Dean and that the man appeared at his door with a gun and was shot in a scuffle that followed, Dauterive said.

The prosecutor said there are no known witnesses to the shooting and it is still unclear why Dean went to Phillips’ house.

“He claims self defense,” Dauterive said of Phillips. “… I can’t negate that what he says is not true.”

Phillips is still awaiting trial on unrelated charges of second-degree battery, aggravated battery and possession of marijuana, according to records from the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court.

In the Billiot case, police have released little information about what linked him to the death of Touchet.

Touchet was found dead inside of his burned out home on Sunset drive, but police said the man died before the fire was set.

Both of his vehicles were missing.

The prosecutor handling the Billiot case, Mark Garber, could not be reached Thursday for comment on the grand jury’s decision or what his next step might be.