Judge tosses conviction on poor defense
A former Tulane University football player whose 2008 conviction in a brutal Bourbon Street knife fight was scrapped Friday will await his second trial on a $425,000 bail.
Ray Boudreaux Jr. was granted the bail Monday morning, over prosecutors’ protests that he should be kept in prison as they appeal the judge’s decision to toss his original conviction.
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter found Friday that Boudreaux’s original attorneys botched his defense so badly he deserved to be tried anew.
The attorneys, Hunter wrote in his ruling, failed to present a surveillance video from a nearby strip club or call eyewitnesses who might have bolstered the football player’s claim that he was defending himself against an angry mob.
The fight broke out in September 2007 outside the Utopia nightclub on Bourbon Street. Police and prosecutors alleged that Boudreaux was the aggressor and charged at the others with a knife. Boudreaux maintained that he was the victim of the attack.
One witness, who spoke to police but was never called by Boudreaux’s defense attorneys, reported seeing him “begging for sanctuary and being attacked as he tried to flee.”
But prosecutors, in arguing Monday that Boudreaux should be kept in prison pending appeal, pointed to the severity of the victims’ injuries: one suffered brain damage, another lost part of a lung.
Boudreaux, 28, of Abbeville, was originally charged with five counts of attempted second-degree murder, one for each of the five victims of the attack.
But after a four-day trial in June 2008, a jury acquitted him on one count and found him guilty of lesser charges on the others. He was convicted of one count of aggravated battery and three counts of attempted manslaughter.
The jury was split, with 10-2 and 11-1 verdicts. Louisiana is one of two states that allows for a non-unanimous guilty verdict.
Hunter sentenced him to a total of 10 years.
But Hunter granted him something of a reprieve — he opted to set a $200,000 appeal bond, and Boudreaux avoided prison for four years while waiting for higher state courts to review his conviction.
Louisiana’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeal eventually denied his request, as did the Louisiana Supreme Court.
In November, Boudreaux exhausted his appeals and reported to prison to begin serving his sentence.
But Boudreaux, granted new attorneys with the Loyola Law Clinic, returned to Hunter with the request for a new trial on the grounds that his trial attorneys were incompetent.
Assistant District Attorney Donna Andrieu asked Hunter on Monday morning to issue a stay in the case as her office appeals his decision, which would keep Boudreaux in prison until the appeals court decides whether Hunter was correct in granting Boudreaux a new trial.
She argued that Boudreaux was given “extraordinary consideration” in 2008, when Hunter allowed him out of jail awaiting appeal. She asked that Hunter offer prosecutors the same allowance and halt the proceedings pending appeal.
But Boudreaux’s new attorney, Majeeda Snead, argued that Hunter is no longer able to deny bond — a person granted a new trial is considered innocent once again, and is entitled to bail like other pretrial defendant.
Hunter denied the state’s request to halt the case, and set Boudreaux’s bail at $425,000. He scheduled a trial for September.
Andrieu told the court that she intends to appeal the scrapped conviction, and ask that the higher court stay the case in the meantime.