Bourbon St. shooting suspect appears in court
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A newly hired lawyer for the only suspect arrested in a deadly gunfight on New Orleans' Bourbon Street said Wednesday he believes video evidence will clear his client.
Trung Le, 20, remains in jail without bond on one count of first-degree murder in the death of a tourist in the June 29 shooting spree. He also faces attempted first-degree murder charges in the wounding of nine others.
Police have said they believe he fired the first shot in the early morning melee that turned the perpetual party atmosphere on the famous street of nightspots into sudden panic.
In a hearing Wednesday, defense lawyer Martin Regan lost a bid for broad authority to subpoena security video from French Quarter bar owners.
"The video recordings that were made will clear him," Regan declared.
But, Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell said the request was premature in the case of Le, who has been arrested and booked but not yet formally indicted by a grand jury.
Regan flatly denied that Le was one of the shooters. He told reporters after the hearing that there is evidence "of an alibi nature," but he would not give details.
Police have been going through video from Bourbon Street and surrounding areas in the French Quarter in what they have described as a painstaking effort to find those responsible for the gunfire.
Regan said he needs subpoenas for his own, separate effort to gather and preserve video evidence because bar owners will otherwise be reluctant to turn it over to him, for fear of upsetting police. "Many owners of these cameras don't want to get involved," Regan said.
Assistant New Orleans District Attorney Laura Rodrigue said Regan was on a fishing expedition, seeking evidence that he could use selectively to help his client. She noted that the defense will be entitled to see prosecution evidence before a trial.
Le was arrested July 4 in south Mississippi and had refused to waive extradition from Gulfport. He was brought back to New Orleans after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a document seeking his return.
He was initially assigned a public defender but Regan said he and attorney Adam Beckman were hired by Le's family to represent him.
The gunfight prompted state police to begin provide extra troopers, as many as 50 at times, to help beef up patrols in New Orleans through Labor Day while the city's police department continues efforts to increase what it acknowledges is an undermanned force. With fewer than 1,200 officers now, the department has launched a recruiting effort to hire 150 new officers.