Prosecutors and attorneys for the alleged triggerman rested their cases Friday at the trial of two Baton Rouge men accused in the shooting deaths LSU graduate students from India inside a campus apartment in December 2007.
Casey Jermaine Gathers, 25, chose not to testify in his own defense. His attorneys called no witnesses but vigorously questioned those called by the state over the course of five days.
Lawyers representing Gathers’ co-defendant, 24-year-old Michael Jermaine Lewis, informed state District Judge Chip Moore they will decide whether or not to present any witnesses when the trial resumes Monday.
Gathers and Lewis face mandatory sentences of life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder in the Dec. 13, 2007, slaying of Kiran Kumar Allam, 33, and Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31, inside Allam’s unit at the Edward Gay Apartments on the university’s north side.
A third defendant in the case, Devin Jamell Parker, 24, also of Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty in 2011 to armed robbery and accessory to second-degree murder charges and is awaiting an Oct. 21 sentencing date.
Parker, who testified Thursday and Friday, spent the bulk of Friday’s court session sitting in the witness chair as the jury watched three videotaped statements he gave police: two in May 2008, and the final one on June 29, 2011 — two days after he entered his guilty pleas.
In his first statement on May 21, 2008, Parker tells Baton Rouge police homicide detective Chris Johnson and State Police Sgt. Jerry Mitchell that Lewis was driving the car that took Parker, Gathers and Lewis to the apartment complex. Parker says he witnessed Allam get shot by Gathers, states Gathers was armed with a .22-caliber revolver, and admits to stealing a cellphone from the apartment and selling it to a girl for $40. He makes no mention of stealing Allam’s wallet.
Charles Watson, a forensic scientist and firearms examiner at the State Police Crime Laboratory, testified Thursday the bullets that killed Allam and Komma were fired from a .38-caliber revolver.
In a second statement that began the night of May 22, 2008, and ended about 12:30 a.m. on May 23, 2008, Parker tells then-LSU Police detective Jared Myers and a state trooper that he snatched a wallet from Allam’s back pocket and took $40 from it before discarding it in a storm drain. He says Lewis stole Komma’s wallet and split the $80 in it between Lewis and Gathers. Parker also states he does not recall Gathers and Lewis wearing gloves, but says the three of them passed an LSU Police officer as they drove out of the complex.
In his last statement three years later, Parker tells Johnson and Myers that Gathers was driving the car that night, that Gathers had a .38-caliber revolver and Lewis had a .22-caliber handgun, that Gathers and Lewis put gloves on before getting out of the car in the complex’s parking lot, and that Lewis told him later that Gathers also shot Komma. Parker also says Allam yelled, “Police, police,” as he tried to escape the apartment before Gathers stopped him at the door and shot him in the head.
Investigators did not find DNA or fingerprints belonging to Gathers, Lewis or Parker inside Allam’s apartment.
In all three of his police statements, Parker maintains the trio had no intention of going to the apartment complex when they began driving around town that night.
“There wasn’t no plannin’. It just happened,” he acknowledges in the 2011 statement.
Komma also was shot in the head, prosecutors said, and his hands were bound with computer cord.