A grand jury declined to indict a Baton Rouge man in a 2004 drive-by shooting death on Airline Highway because an alleged witness had “serious credibility” issues, the man’s attorney said Monday.
There also was no physical evidence linking the alleged shooter, 35-year-old Brian Antonio Spears, to the crime, said Tommy Damico, who represents Spears.
Baton Rouge police arrested Spears on April 10 and booked him on a count of first-degree murder in the killing of Louis Davis, 21, but Spears was released Thursday from Parish Prison a day after an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury refused to indict him on a second-degree murder charge.
“He’s obviously relieved he’s not facing these serious charges,” Damico said.
Cpl. Tommy Stubbs, a police spokesman, said the department’s cold case detectives will continue to investigate the case.
“We’re going to continue to chip away,” he said.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said in an email that the case was reopened “solely because a person, allegedly present at the scene nine years ago, who is currently incarcerated, elected for the first time to present evidence to the cold case detectives that had been in his knowledge for almost a decade.”
Damico said the person is facing significant drug charges.
“His motive (for) coming forward at this later date as well as his credibility in general had to be evaluated,” Moore said. “All of the evidence that the District Attorney’s Office had was presented to the grand jury. I do not know what the grand jury discussed or what led them to their decision but based on their review of the evidence presented, the grand jury returned a no true bill.”
Moore, who said his office appreciates the work of cold case detectives, stressed that arrests are based on probable cause but grand jury indictments require “a higher level” of evidence.
“Should any further evidence be developed, the case can be reopened,” he noted.
Damico said he does not anticipate further charges against Spears in the murder case, nor does he foresee Spears — who spent three months in jail — taking any legal action.
The shooting occurred Aug. 24, 2004, in the 6300 block of Airline Highway. Someone in a passing vehicle shot at the car in which Davis was riding, police have said. The car carrying Davis contained at least two other people, but only Davis was hit.
Police said after the shooting that officers believe Davis was shot during a retaliation for another shooting but was not the intended target.