BENTON, La. -- The private attorney who allegedly drove a sport utility vehicle belonging to the Bossier-Webster parishes district attorney’s office into a bayou and then left the scene of the accident will be prosecuted by the Caddo District Attorney’s Office.
Bossier District Attorney Schuyler Marvin, who has refused to answer questions about a friend and political ally was driving a taxpayer-owned vehicle, filed a motion to recuse his office from prosecuting attorney Lyn Lawrence because D.A.’s office property is involved. Lawrence was ticketed for failure to report an accident.
“It may appear that the District Attorney has a personal interest in the case which is in conflict with the fair and impartial administration of justice,” Marvin said in the motion filed in Bossier District Court.
The wreck happened on the night of Aug. 21. A Toyota Sequoia Limited owned by the D.A.’s office ran off state Highway 527 in south Bossier Parish and into Red Chute Bayou. Sheriff’s deputies called to the scene found no one in the vehicle.
Deputies said they traced the ownership of the SUV to the district attorney’s office, contacted someone with the office and determined Lawrence, 53, was the likely driver.
Two deputies went to a house in Elm Grove where Lawrence was living. The Sheriff’s Office report said Lawrence “did not want to talk about the accident” but told them it happened about 7 p.m. and he climbed out of the wrecked vehicle through a back window. Lawrence would not say how the vehicle wound up in a bayou nor why he left the scene of the accident, a Bossier Sheriff’s Office report into the crash said.
The report said Lawrence told them he laid on the edge of the bayou for a “couple of hours” until he was able to get the attention of a family, who took him home.
Deputies said they saw no reason to suspect alcohol or drugs were factors in the wreck and did not test Lawrence, the report said.
Lawrence’s law practice includes criminal defense work in Bossier Parish. Marvin has refused to explain why a private citizen was driving a vehicle belonging to his office and if he approved Lawrence’s use of it. Lawrence also has not commented.
Under state ethics guidelines, vehicles belonging to government agencies are supposed to be used only for official business and by employees of agencies. State law prohibits the loaning of property of political subdivisions to individuals.
Marvin’s office has refused to provide specifics on whether his office would seek restitution for damage to its vehicle. First Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jacobs said in an email response last month that the case “is either/both in litigation and/or anticipated litigation.”
The wrecker company that towed the SUV submitted a bill to the D.A.’s office charging $1,146 to lift the SUV out of the bayou, $24 a day for storage plus towing and other charges, bringing the total to $2,894.
It's uncertain if the bill has been paid. The owner of the wrecker company, Mericle’s Towing, did not return a call from KTBS News on whether they have been paid, and Jacobs has not responded to an email about the status of the bill.
Caddo District Attorney James Stewart, whose office will prosecute the traffic ticket against Lawrence, would not comment on the specifics of the case. Stewart said he likely would not seek restitution for the Bossier D.A.’s office if Lawrence has insurance, saying that could be handled civilly instead of criminal court.