SHREVEPORT, La. – The on-again, off-again capital murder trial of accused cop killer Grover Cannon is off again.
The trial that was scheduled to begin Monday is off and no new date has been set. That decision comes after the Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Caddo District Court Judge Ramona Emanuel last month moved the trial proceedings back to Caddo Parish from East Baton Rouge Parish without proving it was an unacceptable venue.
The state’s high court ruled there was “no basis” for quashing jury selection in East Baton Rouge Parish, which is where it was moved to earlier this year when Emanuel decided pre-trial publicity would hamper Cannon’s ability to get a fair trial in Caddo Parish.
Cannon is charged with first-degree murder in the 2015 shooting death of Shreveport police Officer Thomas LaValley. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
After numerous delays, Cannon’s trial, which was pushed from January, got underway in March with jury selection in East Baton Rouge Parish. Once seated, the jury was to be brought to Caddo Parish for the actual trial proceedings.
But the selection process ended in the third week after the Louisiana Supreme Court stopped it when it was discovered a computer glitch excluded people under age 26 as potential jurors. The East Baton Rouge clerk's office has since corrected the problem.
A month later, Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart filed motions seeking to move jury selection back to Caddo with a June 17 trial date. He said the summer trial should allow sufficient time for an impartial jury to be picked locally because it would give a six-month window between the January shooting death of Shreveport police Officer Chateri Payne, whose death, while off-duty, happened within days of Cannon’s original trial date.
Court documents filed over the past few months reveal concerns of both sides in finding a trial date that also will work with the availability of witnesses.
Prosecutors estimate their part of the trial will take five days, and the defense says their side will last four to five days. Added to the start of that, however, is jury selection, which could take three weeks or less.
In mid-May, Emanuel transferred the jury venue back to Caddo Parish. The defense was unsuccessful in getting the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal to review the ruling, but did succeed in getting the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear their opposition.