June trial set in 2007 slaying of LSU grad students

A judge Wednesday set a June 24 trial date for two Baton Rouge men accused in the 2007 killing of two LSU graduate students from India after an attorney for one of the defendants requested a speedy trial.

Beau Brock, who represents Casey Jermaine Gathers, said he had been prevented from filing such a motion in the more than 5-year-old case until all outstanding motions were resolved.

“Casey and his family have been frustrated by the delays. We were compelled to file a motion for speedy trial so he can have his day in court,” Brock said outside state District Judge Chip Moore’s courtroom. “We don’t intend just to rest on not guilty as our position. We are going to show Casey Gathers is the innocent man that he is.”

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Steve Danielson said during a brief hearing in the case that he intends to try Gathers, 24, and Michael Jermaine Lewis, 23, together in the slaying of Kiran Kumar Allam, 33, and Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31.

The two were shot to death at Allam’s Edward Gay apartment on the edge of LSU’s campus. Their bodies were found Dec. 13, 2007. Both men were shot in the head and one was bound.

Gathers, who is the alleged triggerman, and Lewis each are charged with two counts of second-degree murder. A second-degree murder conviction would carry an automatic sentence of life in prison.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III reiterated earlier this month that his office is confident in its case.

Devin Jamell Parker, 23, also of Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty in 2011 to armed robbery and accessory charges in the case and agreed to testify in any future legal proceedings. He has not been sentenced.

Chip Moore on Wednesday denied Brock’s request that the judge instruct the jury that former LSU graduate student Anatol Litoshka could have had a motive to kill. Brock contends Litoshka threatened Allam before Litoshka was booted from graduate school at LSU in mid-2006.

Earlier this month, the judge denied a defense motion to suppress — or bar the jury from hearing — Parker’s statements to police.

Brock argued previously that there are too many inconsistencies in Parker’s statements for Parker to be trusted. Danielson has countered in court that Parker implicated Gathers and Lewis in the killings and told detectives details of the crimes that only someone present at the scene would have known.

Parker told authorities in videotaped statements that have been played in court that he was with Gathers and Lewis when they forced Allam and Komma into Allam’s apartment before the men were fatally shot.

Gathers, Lewis and Parker were booked in May 2008 in the LSU graduate student killings, but only Parker was indicted four months later on two counts of second-degree murder. Gathers and Lewis were released from Parish Prison shortly thereafter.

Parker pleaded guilty in June 2011 and agreed to cooperate with authorities, and in July 2011, Gathers and Lewis were indicted on second-degree murder charges.