Kawatta Bosby was Convicted of Second Degree Murder a Second Time in Baton Rouge, but did he Pull the Trigger??
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This is the first murder case that got me concerned enough to get involved with the the effort to find truth and justice for men doing time or on death row for murders they did not commit. I guess it got my attention because an LSU professor I know very well was a member of the jury pool at Kawatta Bosby's first murder trail. I will name the professor Angie, for purposes of confidentiality. Angie was turned down by the prosecutors because "Professors tend to think too much."
The following is a scenario of the events that happened on that night in April, 1996. The events are purely speculation, because I was not there. The news accounts do not address the issue of motive. Most killers contrary to what you read in detective novels do not kill without motive. The name of the victim has been changed to protect his reputation. However if you believe in Heaven and Hell and the good Lord up above, you have to believe that John Smith would have liked to see the real killer brought to justice.
On that mild night in April 96, 27-year-old John Smith told his wife that he was going to get something to drink and he parked his white Chevrolet pickup truck in a vacant lot on the corner of Gardere Lane and Rush Avenue. The air smelled like poison from the chemical plants that dot the banks of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. This area near the LSU Campus has one of the highest rates of crime in the City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When one thinks of University Police, you think of someone well adapted to writing parking tickets and towing cars into the impound yard. LSU police are very well equipped to do this minor detail, but they have to be trained in areas concerning armed robbery, and even murder.
My sympathy is with the family of Smith, but I am in search for the truth. I think someone should be in jail for this murder, but I think it should be the right man. There is a question in my mind about what a man would be doing parked in his truck in this neighborhood in Baton Rouge at that time of the night. I would not get caught dead there. My brother, a retired 20 year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department, has told me many times that the atmosphere in some Baton Rouge neighborhoods changes drastically around midnight.
" That is when the varmints come out to play. Drug deals on nearly every corner and prostitutes selling their bodies for 20 bucks for a hit of cocaine. " Was this a drug deal gone bad?
Previous to parking his truck in the lot, Smith had an argument with Chris Word (name changed) in a bar room in Darrow, Louisiana. This argument was overheard by an eyewitness named Carl Torrence. Torence told the police that he and Chris Word then followed Smith home and waited for him to leave the house . Then he said that Chris walked up to the driver's window of Smith's Chevy Truck and pulled the trigger and fired two shots into the window. He Circled the front of the truck and fired three shots into the passenger side window and killed John Smith dead. Was this what really happened or did Chris shoot Smith over a bad drug deal?
At any rate the testimony of Torence was dismissed because the prosecutors wanted an iron clad case. The fingerprints on the scene were Bosby's and not Chris Word's. The testimony was withheld from Bosby's defending lawyer and the jury.
When the shots were fired Kawatta Bosby was standing in the road three blocks away form the crime scene. He rushed to the Chevy truck to see if he could be of assistance to the victim. As he leaned on the truck he placed his hand on the truck and left his right palm print and right little finger print on the truck. This would be the main evidence that would lead two separate juries in two trials to convict Bosby of second degree murder and sentence him to life in Angola Prison. Other testimony of an alleged eyewitness would lead the jury to convict. At least he was not convicted of first degree murder and does not join the hundreds of innocent men on death row.
A man named Corey Pittman was being fingered by police on an unrelated crime. He plea-bargained with the prosecutors and stated under oath that he saw Kawatta Bosby shoot and kill John Smith. I personally think the art of plea-bargaining should be outlawed. Even Bill Clinton, the President of the United States of America, has proven that any man will lie under oath to save his neck.
In most cases the jury feels that the man on trial is guilty or the police would not have gone to so much trouble to present a case to the district attorney. I beg you to take a look at the Brandon Johnson murder trial.
The jury believed the testimony of Corey Pittman and believed Bosby's palm prints and the finger prints on the truck were evidence enough to convict an innocent man to spend his life in prison.
I never have heard of this defending attorney, Andrew J. Hodges IV . I suppose he was a court appointed defender. You know these are not grade A number one lawyers skilled enough to present a descent trial. It is the same old story. If you have money for a good lawyer who knows how to play the court game, you walk. Look at the trial of O.J. Simspon.
State District Judge Bonnie Jackson ordered a June 29 retrial for Kawatta Bosby, convicted in December of second-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in the killing of 27-year-old John Smith.
Defense lawyer Hodges said Jackson ruled prosecutors failed to give him police reports that indicated someone else committed the crime.
"They gave me a fraction of the police reports, one little morsel of the whole picture," Hodges said.
Prosecutors are not required to turn over all police reports to defense lawyers, Hodges said. But they have a duty by law to turn over anything that would tend to show the innocence of a person accused of a crime, he said.
Hodges said prosecutors are supposed to give such information to defense lawyers so the defense can determine whether it is valid.
The jurors at the second trial were not told that another jury in December 1997 convicted Bosby in Smiths death. I wonder if they did not know this anyway. Can you imagine the fallacy of trying to find a jury for the second trial that had no knowledge or opinion of the first trial. Don't they watch the news or read the paper? What kind of people are we selecting for jury members? I am reminded of my mother who was fishing near her very small country home town, Columbia, Louisiana. She was fishing on a commercial catfish pond where the pond owner would cook the fish in the restaurant that sit on stilts above the pond.
In Columbia, everyone knows everyone else and they really know when someone is a stranger. A couple fellows with long hair were fishing beside her and she asked them who they were and where they were from. The strangers said they were with Willy Nelson and they were looking for a place in Columbia to have a pic-nik. Mamma wanted to know if Willy Nelson was that new logging contractor that had moved into the area. Well mamma is not ignorant. She just likes life to be real and she likes to live it at the moment, one moment at a time. She doesn't watch TV. She doesn't read the paper except to find a garage sale to put more merchandise in her second hand store.
Well it does not surprise me that a different jury convicted an innocent man to serve life in prison. Again the jury feels the man is guilty or else the police would not have given the case to the district attorney. People we have to wake up. Life is more than getting the latest updates to Microsoft, or cybersex, or trying to find mister or miss right. Life us more than email. We are nearly into the 21 Century. Y2K may wipe out every computer in the world. There is concrete scientific evidence developed and we need to use it. We need to demand that the evidence is used. The police have florensic evidence such as paraffin test that prove that you even fired a gun. They have ballistic reports of the gun and the bullet. They have DNA. It is time we all stood up and demanded a revamping of the whole criminal trial system in America. We need to stand up for what is right. We need to demand life, liberty and the active pursuit of justice. We need to do it now, because the next person falsely accused of murder may be you.
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an index to all The Midnite Cowboy, Butch Cassidy of Baton Rouge Storyteller pages to make you laugh and cry
Brandon Johnson murder trial. another innocent man gets life at Angola
The murder of a small girl child and the death penalty
The Baton Rouge Paper, The Advocate story Judges ruling for a new trial
The Baton Rouge Paper, The Advocate story of the second trial of Bosby