Fugitive in April 2012 Baton Rouge killing arrested in Michigan

After more than a year of waiting and almost abandoning hope that police would find those responsible for her brother’s death, Usha Harris learned Saturday that an arrest had been made.

“That’s awesome, honestly that is awesome,” Usha Harris, 37, said, hearing for the first time that U.S. marshals arrested fugitive Mason Chiapuzio, 19, on Friday in Ontonatong, Mich., in connection with the Baton Rouge fatal shooting of her brother, Brandon Harris, 29, on April 15, 2012.

Brandon Harris’ body was found in the 1400 block of Sharlo Avenue in Tigerland.

Usha Harris said she almost gave up hope an arrest would be made in connection with her brother’s death, but continued to call detectives at least once every few weeks. She said they told her a few weeks ago that they had a few leads and were working with the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office to ensure they had sufficient evidence to issue an arrest warrant.

She stayed busy Saturday fielding calls from relatives after word spread about the arrest and the general mood was that the callers were pleased, but not happy.

“Knowing that someone has been arrested in connection to it, it doesn’t give you closure,” Harris said. “It gives you hope for closure, but at the same time, no matter what happens, it’s not going to bring him back.”

She added that she expects more arrests would be made in connection with her brother’s slaying. “If they got one, more are coming,” she said.

Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said marshals arrested Chiapuzio in Ontonatong, a small town on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, shortly after Baton Rouge police received information that he may be in that state.

McKneely said robbery appears to have been a motive in the shooting because Harris’ pockets had been emptied.

Chiapuzio was awaiting extradition to Louisiana, where he will be booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on one count of first-degree murder.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said marshals will hold Chiapuzio while his office files the extradition paperwork.

There is a chance that Chiapuzio would fight extradition and in that case, an extradition hearing would be held.

“We don’t have to prove that he is guilty of the crime, just that he is the person the warrant is issued for,” Moore said of the possible hearing. “I don’t have any doubt that we’ll get him back whether he waives extradition or not.”