Three charged with witness tampering in homicide cases

A man accused in two homicides was charged this week with asking friends to beat, bribe, intimidate or kill the witnesses who planned to testify against him at his murder trials.

The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office issued a true bill against Erick Scott, 23, charging him with solicitation for first-degree murder and conspiracy to injure or intimidate witnesses after an investigation into his jailhouse phone calls and letters.

Scott has been in Parish Prison since 2012 awaiting trial in the October 2011 shooting death of Justice Thompson and the February 2012 shooting death of Kevin “Gus” Johnson, 21. He has been charged with second-degree murder in both cases. Scott also has been charged with two counts of attempted second-degree murder in a 2011 armed robbery, records show.

Baton Rouge police detectives received a tip earlier this year that Scott was planning to take action against the witnesses in the cases against him. They began listening in on the phone calls he made from Parish Prison. They also learned Scott was communicating with friends via letters and obtained some of the correspondence.

Two of Scott’s alleged accomplices are Kirrasha R. Nicholas, 25, 855 S. Flannery Road, and Ron Neshell Dunn, 24, 999 Rosenwald Road, No. 8037, both of Baton Rouge.

Dunn had agreed in a phone conversation with Scott on April 9 to send someone to threaten three women planning to testify in one of Scott’s cases, according to Dunn’s arrest warrant.

Dunn also told Scott that a witness in another case would not make it to the witness stand.

The witness “ain’t fixing to catch no stand,” Dunn told Scott in the phone call.

On April 7, Nicholas agreed to call some of the witnesses on behalf of Scott, but could not reach them, the affidavit of probable cause says.

Three days later, Scott told her to destroy a letter he sent her, but police found the letter torn up in her trash can, the affidavit says. In the letter, Scott gives Nicholas the name of a witness to one of the homicides he’s accused of committing and writes, “Them people ain’t gone come to court on me. If they do, we going to beat them.”

Dunn and Nicholas each were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of conspiracy to intimidate witnesses.

Scott also is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit public bribery.

The bribery charges stem from Scott trying to bribe one witness to intimidate another into not testifying, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.

Police arrested a fourth person, Christopher Smith, 22, in April.

Detectives heard Scott in an April 8 phone call talking to Smith about a letter Smith had received from a “B. Johnson,” which Scott said he had actually written.

The letter asks “Nino” to get with “Tim” and, in an apparent reference to the witnesses, “step on them.” The handwritten letter also says to “get it done before my court date,” and ends with a warning, “Don’t let nobody see this letter.”

Police found the torn-up letter in Smith’s trash can and pieced it back together.

However, Moore said the investigation has shown that Smith did nothing wrong since he did not act on Scott’s request, and he will not be charged.

“He had no part in any criminal activity at all,” Moore said.

The case follows a disturbing trend involving witness intimidation and tampering in the last eight to 10 years, Moore said.

“It’s unfortunate that in today’s society, we see more and more of that and not just in Baton Rouge, but all over the country,” Moore said.

Moore said there were three witnesses to the 2007 beating and burning death of Jason Fourmy in Baton Rouge.

The Duheart brothers, Dearius and Denako, and Andrea Williams each were accused in Fourmy’s killing, but the charges were dropped when the witnesses were shot and killed between 2007 and 2009.

Those cases were never solved.