Hearing set on lawyer’s challenge to charges

A judge Wednesday scheduled a May 8 hearing on Baton Rouge lawyer Peter Q. John’s contention that his January 2010 indictment should be thrown out because prosecutors have waited far too long to bring him to trial.

The 42-year-old John, who has advertised himself as “The Thugs Lawyer,” is charged with three counts each of perjury, criminal conspiracy to commit perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and felony theft.

“The (two-year) statute of limitations has basically prescribed,” John’s attorney, Ferdinand Valteau, said outside state District Judge Mike Erwin’s courtroom.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” added East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Mark Pethke, who inherited the case earlier this year after the original prosecutor retired at the end of last year. “We’re going to review the (court) transcripts and see.”

John’s indictment accuses him of interfering in a criminal probe of two July 4, 2005, incidents in which local rapper Bruce “Beelow” Moore was shot and two other men — Timothy Carter and Demond Eames — were attacked, allegedly by Trill Entertainment managers Melvin Vernell Jr., Marcus Roach and others.

Trill is a Baton Rouge rap music label.

John is accused of plotting to have attempted murder charges against Vernell and Roach dropped.

Moore was shot in front of Shop Smart Music and Fashion, a store he owned on North Sherwood Forest Drive. He survived the shooting.

Eames also was outside the store at the time. Carter claimed he was attacked outside a Piggly Wiggly store on Choctaw Drive shortly before the incident at Shop Smart.

Prosecutors charged Vernell and Roach in September 2005 with attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery and illegal use of weapons. Carter and Moore filed lawsuits in October and November 2005, respectively. Prosecutors dismissed the criminal charges against Vernell and Roach in September 2006 at the request of Moore, Carter and Eames.

John claims he negotiated a settlement with Trill — on behalf of Moore, Carter and Eames — in February 2006 in a civil suit stemming from the July 2005 incidents. Trill agreed to pay “certain sums of money” to the three men as part of the settlement agreement, he maintains.

Prosecutors filed new charges against Vernell and Roach in May 2009.

Vernell and Roach, formerly of Baton Rouge and Prairieville, respectively, each pleaded guilty in 2011 to aggravated battery of Moore. Vernell also pleaded guilty to simple battery of Eames outside the store, and Roach pleaded guilty to simple battery of Carter.

Erwin sentenced them to credit for time served on the aggravated battery charge. He gave each man suspended six-month prison terms on the simple battery charges and put them on probation for two years. Both men now live in Atlanta.