Ruling a mixed bag for both sides in Bourbon St. shooting

January 20, 2019 - 4:37 pm
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's Supreme Court turned down appeals from prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case of a man convicted in a deadly 2014 gunfight on New Orleans' Bourbon Street.

Trung Le was originally convicted of manslaughter in the death of a bystander — nursing student Brittany Thomas. A state appeal court later reduced that conviction to negligent homicide. Le also was convicted of attempted manslaughter in the gun battle, which left nine others wounded. That conviction stands.

Defense attorneys sought to have the convictions thrown out. Prosecutors sought to re-instate the manslaughter conviction. The state Supreme Court rejected both sides Friday.

The 25-year-old Le was originally sentenced to 60 years — 40 for manslaughter and 20 for attempted manslaughter of a never-identified gunman, to be served consecutively. He now faces no more than 25 years when he is re-sentenced because the negligent homicide conviction carries a maximum five-year sentence.

Last year, the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal said the manslaughter conviction and maximum 40-year sentence for the death of Thomas, who was from Hammond, Louisiana, cannot stand because the bullet that killed Thomas was fired by another gunman —one who exchanged gunfire with Le and has never been found.

"Under Louisiana law and jurisprudence, the defendant's manslaughter conviction for the death of Ms. Thomas cannot be upheld because he did not physically kill her and was not acting in concert with her actual killer, the unknown male," the appeal court ruled.

New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro expressed disappointment at the Supreme Court's decision against hearing appeals.

"It essentially says that if there is a gunfight that inadvertently takes the life of an innocent bystander such as Brittany Thomas, the law will treat the shooters as if there isn't a real victim," Cannizzaro said in an emailed statement.

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