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Shreveport firefighters, lawyers prepare for trials - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Shreveport firefighters, lawyers prepare for trials

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Trial dates are set for the five former firefighters at the center of a scandal that's rocked the Shreveport Fire Department for the better part of a year.

With so many suspects and accusations, there are at least nine trials to come.

Billy Glass, Derrick Harris, Clint Richardson and Jason Vaughan are all charged with principal to prostitution after the former Station 8 firemen allegedly hired a woman to have sex with a mentally challenged man inside the station's bathroom. The men- along with Randy Chandler also face a more serious felony charge of cruelty to the infirmed- for their alleged mistreatment of a second man with disabilities while on duty.

Previous article: A comprehensive look at Station 8 allegations

For months, they've adamantly denied those allegations and stood side-by-side at the defense table. When first case for prostitution goes to court this summer, however, each man will face the judge alone.

Shreveport firefighters recently walked out of the Caddo Parish district court with two dates: June 19th and August 18th.

"We try misdemeanor trials to the judge whereas the felony trial of cruelty to the in firmed is tried to the jury," Dale Cox, Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney, said. "The law says you can't try those two trials together."

Cox says they scheduled the misdemeanor prostitution trials first since they're faster. Cox expects each to last half a day. If convicted of hiring a prostitute- which carries a penalty of up to six months in prison and a $500 fine- Cox wants to use that verdict to strengthen his arguments in August.

"If I am able to secure convictions in the misdemeanor cases, I will ask the judge to use that conduct as an additional 404B in the felony case."

"I cannot find any direct testimony by anyone that would go to the points that are being charged to my client," John Settle, attorney for Derrick Harris, said. "Somebody said this, somebody said this. It's hearsay on top of hearsay on top of hearsay."

Settle says the prostitution case will be straight-forward, hinging mostly on the alleged prostitute's testimony. The felony trials are a different story.

Attorneys spent much of an April 2nd hearing pressing prosecutors information like the dates for specific allegations and investigators' written notes.

"I believe that unless the state can at least provide a year, then that charge should be thrown out because it is so totally vague," Settle said.

In the bill of particulars, some allegations have a month and year marked... others only a year... and for others no timeframe at all.

"Pinning down a date would help let us know... my client could have been on vacations, could have been on sick leave. Also, the approximate date will help us determine other potential witnesses that could provide exculpatory testimonies."

Cox says it's hard to find some dates since the alleged abuse goes back for years.

There's also the matter of scheduling the suspect's trials... which Cox says he's still working out. Louisiana law requires each man be tried separately... since some reportedly confessed on their own actions... and provided allegations against others.

"The order of the cases just means that the first guy up will one: have a better chance of selecting a neutral jury, but secondly he will not know the strategy that the District Attorney's going to follow."

The penalty for cruelty to the infirmed carries fines up to $10,000 and ten years in prison.

Settle says he's preparing for each scenario; going first, last or in the middle.

Whichever former SFD employee opens, Settle says there will be a full defense table with attorneys from the other accused sitting in.

That's if the men even get to that stage.

"There is a substantial time interval between the misdemeanor trials and the jury trial, and a lot will probably happen during that time period."

To complicate matters further, there is a Grand Jury investigating the actions of Shreveport Fire Department leadership after the alleged prostitution at Station 8 on June 14, 2013.

Dale Cox says proceedings are confidential so he cannot talk about evidence but the Grand Jury met in February, March, is in the process of hearing testimony this week. The Grand Jury could continue again next month.

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