The state Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated the second-degree murder conviction of a man whose charges were tossed when an appeals court ruled there was not enough evidence that he purposely shot and killed his hunting partner.
Quint Mire, who admitted taking crystal methamphetamine the day of the shooting, claimed he mistook 56-year-old Julian Gajan for a deer during a 2011 hunting trip in Vermilion Parish.
The state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal set aside Mire’s second-degree murder conviction in 2014 and deemed the case a negligent homicide, ruling that evidence the two men had argued in the past was not enough to prove the killing was intentional.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the original murder conviction and life sentence in an opinion faulting the appeals court for not deferring to a jury that heard “abundant evidence of motive in the form of witnesses who described the various disagreements and, at times, acrimonious relationship” between Mire and Gajan.
Mire left Gajan dead in the woods after gathering the spent shotgun shells and did not admit to the shooting until three days later, even suggesting at one point someone else might have killed Gajan, prosecutors said.
Mire, who had known Gajan for at least 17 years, testified at trial he did not speak up about the shooting because he was scared.
There were no witnesses to the actual shooting, but acquaintances testified the two men had fought a few months earlier over gasoline Gajan had allegedly stolen from Mire’s truck and that Mire may have been upset over money Gajan owed his family for crab traps, according to court records.
If Mire had shot the victim over money, the appeals judges reasoned in 2014, “he would not have left $527 in the victim’s wallet.”
The state Supreme Court judges opined in this week’s ruling that just because someone’s motive may seem unreasonable doesn’t negate a jury’s decision that someone acted on an irrational motive.
“The jury correctly found the defendant guilty,” said 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes.