Man gets 16 years in drug deal/robbery

A Baton Rouge man was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in prison for his role in a botched 2012 drug-deal-turned-armed-robbery that resulted in the death of a relative of his co-defendant.

Jermaine Clark’s co-defendant, Marcus Heard, is scheduled to stand trial May 27 on charges of armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Jury selection had begun Tuesday at Clark’s armed robbery trial when he withdrew his not guilty plea and pleaded guilty.

An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted Clark, 30, and Heard, 41, on armed robbery charges and Heard on the gun charge in May 2012 but declined to indict the men on second-degree murder charges in the Jan. 14, 2012, death of Robert L. Heard, 26.

Prosecutors have said Robert Heard was with Marcus Heard and Clark when all three men tried to rob John Freeman. Police said Freeman was expecting to buy drugs from the trio at his Gerald Drive apartment.

Freeman shot at his attackers as did a 16-year-old boy who saw the robbery happening, police said.

The grand jury also declined to indict the boy on a second-degree murder charge. Clark suffered a gunshot wound to the head but survived.

Police called Robert Heard’s death a justifiable homicide, saying Freeman and the teen fired in self-defense.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said Louisiana law did not allow Marcus Heard, Clark or Freeman to be held criminally responsible for the death of Robert Heard “because of the intervening, justifiable act” of the teen acting in defense of others.

That would have changed if Marcus Heard, Clark or Freeman had fired the weapon that caused the death of Robert Heard, the district attorney has said.

State District Judge Richard Anderson ordered Clark to serve his 16-year prison term without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Sonya Cardia-Porter is prosecuting the case.