La. appeals court: Try Darien Bailey as adult

A state appeals court ruled Thursday that a 15-year-old boy charged with murder in a November home invasion should stand trial as an adult, reversing a Juvenile Court judge’s earlier ruling.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal found that prosecutors presented “clear and convincing evidence that there is no substantial opportunity” for Derian Bailey to be rehabilitated in Louisiana’s juvenile justice system. The panel held that Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson abused her discretion when she denied prosecutors’ request that Bailey be tried as an adult.

Bailey, who moved to Baton Rouge from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, was 14 when he and his older brother and cousin were booked in the fatal shooting and attempted robbery of Derrick Marioneaux. The victim died in a hail of gunfire after three people burst through his front door toting a sawed-off shotgun and an assault rifle, prosecutors have said.

Due to his age, Bailey may not be imprisoned beyond his 31st birthday if tried and convicted as an adult. If adjudicated as a juvenile, he could be held in state custody until he is 21.

“To adequately protect the public, he needs to be tried as an adult,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said. “It’s highly unusual to take this action, but under the circumstances, I think I’d be remiss in not taking him over to state court to seek an adequate resolution.”

Public Defender Jack Harrison said he plans to appeal Thursday’s ruling to the state Supreme Court. “We will continue to urge the court system to treat this matter as the law intends,” Harrison said.

Prosecutors have said DNA evidence found on a ski mask links Bailey to the Nov. 6 home invasion on Wyandotte Street. Bailey’s older brother, Benjamin Bailey, 20, and cousin, Juan Herbert, 21, have been indicted on second-degree murder charges in the slaying.

Derian Bailey inadvertently shot his cousin during the home invasion, prosecutors have said, and the suspects were arrested after taking Herbert to the hospital.

Prosecutors’ request to try Derian Bailey as an adult prompted an unusual court proceeding in which Johnson heard two days of testimony about evidence and the probability of the teen being rehabilitated through juvenile services. Johnson found Derian Bailey has the mind of a 10-year-old and would be better off in juvenile custody, where he would have access to a child psychiatrist and specially trained staff.

Thursday’s ruling marked the third time this year the appeals court has reversed a decision made by Johnson in the Derian Bailey case. The court reversed her decision to grant the boy bond and a separate order that would have released him due to a speedy trial issue.