New trial date set in 2007 killing of LSU students

Four months after requesting a speedy trial, an attorney for one of two Baton Rouge men accused in the 2007 slaying of two LSU graduate students from India asked a judge Thursday to scrub the scheduled June 24 trial date and set a later one.

State District Judge Chip Moore, after making sure Casey Jermaine Gathers and Michael Jermaine Lewis understood and agreed with what was happening, granted defense attorney Beau Brock’s withdrawal of Gathers’ speedy trial motion and scheduled a new trial date of Sept. 23 for both men.

Brock, who represents Gathers, told Moore he needs time to investigate forensic evidence that prosecutors recently turned over to the defense. Brock also said he is awaiting copies of some crime lab material.

Lewis’ attorney, Jason Chatagnier, told the judge he had no objection to the trial being pushed back.

Moore had set the June 24 trial date in February. Gathers and Lewis previously had been set to stand trial last August, but that date was postponed at the request of the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office.

The judge warned both sides Thursday that the Sept. 23 trial date will not be altered.

“In preparing for the trial, more forensic questions have come up,” Brock said outside the courtroom. “Those questions cannot be answered without further investigation.”

Gathers, 25, and Lewis, 24, are accused in the killing 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.

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.