Judge denies trial delay in West Feliciana slaying

A state district judge denied a motion Thursday to delay the trial of a 19-year-old man accused of first-degree murder in the throat-slashing death of a young boy in 2010.

The trial for Trevor Reese is scheduled to begin March 18 before 20th Judicial District Judge William G. Carmichael.

Reese, who formerly lived in The Bluffs on Thompson Creek, was 16 when he was accused of killing Jackson Attuso, 8, of Clinton, on a hiking path in the golfing and residential development. Reese turned 17 less than two months later.

Reese cannot be given the death penalty in the slaying, and the U.S. Supreme Court in May ruled unconstitutional those state criminal laws, such as Louisiana’s murder statutes, that mandate an automatic life sentence for juvenile offenders without the possibility of parole or probation.

Carmichael also denied a defense motion to preclude the jury from hearing the consequences to Reese of a verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

“There is no dispute that the defendant killed the decedent and the nature and circumstances surrounding this murder,” the motion says.

“The only issue at trial will be whether the defendant was insane at the time of the offense,” the motion adds.

The defense contends that jurors will hear what would happen to Reese if they find him not guilty because he was insane, but the uncertainty about the state’s murder penalty for juvenile offenders will leave jurors in the dark about Reese’s fate if they find him guilty.

The motion to delay the trial is similar to a motion to dismiss the indictment that Carmichael denied in September.

The trial should be continued until the state Legislature amends the murder laws as they apply to juveniles, the motion says.

Carmichael said he will hold a sentencing hearing, during which aggravating and mitigating evidence could be presented, in the event the jury finds Reese guilty of first-degree murder.