An appeals court has revived the first-degree charge against a St. Landry Parish man accused of stabbing to death his wife 10 years after his release from a juvenile corrections facility for an earlier killing.
Robert Lee Heard Jr., 38, allegedly killed his wife, Demetra Doyle, in September 2012, just two months after the couple married.
State District Judge Jason Meche threw out the indictment last year over questions about whether prosecutors could use Heard’s prior homicide case as a so-called “aggravating factor” to support the first-degree murder charge.
The state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal overturned Meche’s decision in an opinion released Wednesday, ruling that the reasons Meche gave in his decision — even if his reasoning was legally sound — had not been raised in court filings by Heard’s defense attorney.
St. Landry Parish First Assistant District Attorney Frank Trosclair said the ruling essentially resets the case.
Heard’s arrest in 2012 attracted national attention in the entertainment press because the victim in his earlier juvenile case was Michael Ensley, brother of actress and comedian Niecy Nash.
Nash hosted the Style Network’s “Clean House” series for nine years. She also played the part of deputy Raineesha Williams in the Comedy Central series “Reno 911!”
Heard was 15 years old when he allegedly shot Ensley in 1993 at the Reseda, California, high school they both attended.
Heard was committed to a California juvenile corrections facility and released in 2002, according to prior information from the Eunice Police Department.