ST. FRANCISVILLE — The presiding judge in the Angola 5 first-degree murder cases has
appointed a second New Orleans lawyer to represent
Barry Edge, the only defendant remaining to be tried
in the slaying of a prison security officer nearly 13 years ago.
Retired Orleans Parish District Judge Jerome M. Winsberg named veteran defense lawyer Nick Trenticosta as co-counsel for Edge, 52.
Trenticosta replaces Fred Kroenke, of Baton Rouge, who is no longer certified to handle death penalty cases in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Public Defender Board recently denied Kroenke’s capital case certification application.
The board’s decision became widely known Sept. 28, when the head of the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Defenders’ Office told a 19th Judicial District judge in Baton Rouge that Kroenke could no longer represent Richard Matthews, 55, of Slaughter.
Matthews is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder in the Dec. 23, 2009, slaying of two clerical employees at Grady Crawford Construction Co. in Baton Rouge.
In any capital case in which a defendant is found to be indigent and his attorneys are
appointed by a court, the Louisiana Supreme Court has determined that the defendant must have two attorneys certified to handle capital cases — one designated as lead counsel and the other as associate counsel.
Capital, or first-degree murder, cases are those in which the death penalty is a possible punishment.
Edge and fellow inmates Jeffrey Cameron Clark, David Brown, Robert G. Carley and David Mathis were indicted on first-degree murder charges in the beating and stabbing death of security Capt. David C. Knapps, 49, during an attempted escape from Angola’s Camp D on Dec. 29, 1999.
Clark and Brown were convicted and sentenced to death last year in separate trials before juries chosen in St. Tammany Parish. After another jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on Carley’s sentence, he was sentenced to another life term.
Prosecutors accepted a guilty plea from Mathis in August, and he also was sentenced to a second life term.
Trenticosta joins Steven Lemoine, also of New Orleans, on Edge’s defense team.
Lemoine began representing Edge earlier this year after the defendant’s lead attorney, Nelvil Hollingsworth, was found to have marijuana in his jacket when he entered Angola to visit with Edge.
In a Sept. 20 letter filed in Edge’s case, Lemoine said Kroenke’s continued representation of Edge became “problematic” more than a month earlier and he then began consulting with Trenticosta about the scope and challenges of the case.
Winsberg approved the appointment Sept. 21 but made it retroactive to Aug. 20.
Edge is scheduled for trial in late January, but Lemoine and Trenticosta said this week they might ask for more time to prepare for the trial.