Marksville deputy marshal's bail reduction denied; family cites race, self-defense as factors in murder _lowres

Derrick Stafford, 32, left, and Norris Greenhouse, Jr., 23

MARKSVILLE — A man wounded last year in a barrage of bullets that killed his young son was drunk, on drugs and possibly suicidal when two city marshals opened fire after a car chase, an attorney for one of the officers said in court Wednesday.

Jonathan Goins, an attorney for former deputy marshal Derrick Stafford, said Christopher Few tested positive for amphetamines and also benzodiazepines — Xanax or Valium — when he was treated for his wounds after the Nov. 3 shooting.

Few survived but his son, 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis, was killed.

Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr., both former law enforcement officers in Marksville, have pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Both men are out of jail after each posted bail of $1 million.

Both are accused of opening fire on Few and his son after their vehicle came to a stop following a police chase. State Police, whose detectives investigated the incident, have said a video taken from a third officer’s body camera showed Few’s hands could be seen and that they held no weapon before the officers started firing.

Stafford and Greenhouse were arrested soon after State Police viewed the video. The video has not been seen by the public but most likely will be shown at a trial; State Police Col. Mike Edmonson called the footage “disturbing.”

Goins said Wednesday that Few might have been addicted to drugs when the shooting occurred. Goins revealed that one of his friends told detectives that Few had attempted suicide before the shooting. Goins said the revelations could help Stafford’s defense at a trial.

Steve Lemoine, an attorney for Few, and his son’s family, declined to address Goins’ accusations, according to The Associated Press.

“Mr. Goins says a lot of things. I guess we will have to wait until trial to see what the facts are,” Lemoine said.

Goins and Chris LaCour, another attorney for Stafford, were in the courtroom Wednesday to ask presiding Judge William Bennett to move the trial out of Avoyelles Parish because of pretrial publicity. One of the “inflammatory” statements cited by the attorneys in their change of venue request was Edmonson’s remarks.

Bennett rejected the request to move the trial, but left open the possibility of moving it to another parish if a proper jury could not be seated from among the 24,000 registered voters who live in Avoyelles.

Stafford on Wednesday also sought to delay the trial, which was scheduled to begin Sept. 26. Bennett granted the continuance after prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, didn’t object. Stafford’s trial start was pushed back to Nov. 28, the date the trial for codefendant Greenhouse was to start. Bennett said the Greenhouse trial would begin in early 2017.

Family members of Stafford have claimed he and Greenhouse acted in self-defense when they opened fire, and Stafford’s attorneys are laying the groundwork for that line of defense.

In court filings last week asking to move and delay the trial, the attorneys also asked Bennett to make prosecutors turn over Few’s medical records and to make him submit to a psychiatric evaluation for the defense. Goins said Few’s state of mind at the time was a crucial piece in solving the mystery of what happened that night, and “a major issue we plan to attack if this proceeds to a trial.”

Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Derbes objected strongly to releasing Few’s medical records, and also to making him submit to a psychiatric evaluation.

“I don’t know if they’re going to have him water-boarded,” Derbes said.

Bennett refused Goins’ requests.

“I don’t see how, under the law, you’re entitled to (medical records),” Bennett said. On Goins’ request for a defense-led psychological evaluation, Bennett said, “I can’t force him, under the code, that he be examined by your experts.”

Outside the courtroom, Goins let two reporters view a police report in which Rhett Lacour said his friend Few had problems with alcohol and drugs and that Few tried to kill himself by jumping off a tug boat about two weeks before the on the Nov. 3 shooting.

“Chris (Few) had been battling drug addiction and depression during this time,” the report stated. “Rhett (Lacour) stated that Chris lost his job soon after that because of his distractions.”

Follow Billy Gunn on Twitter, @BillyGunnAcad.