LAFAYETTE — State Police have arrested a Breaux Bridge man who has been charged with murder in a 2002 St. Martin Parish killing, which for more than a decade had been pinned on a different man.
Marshall Alexander Jr., 36, was charged by a St. Martin Parish grand jury on June 27 with second-degree murder, and State Police arrested him Tuesday, State Police Trooper Brooks David said.
Alexander is accused of killing 31-year-old Scott Latiolais on March 28, 2002. Alexander was originally charged with accessory to murder and became prosecutors’ prime witness against Timothy Roberts, the first suspect to be charged in the case.
According to news accounts at the time, Latiolais’ body was found in an empty lot next to Las’ Seafood, off the Henderson Highway, on the morning of Friday, March 28, 2002.
Latiolais had been shot in the back with a shotgun, sprayed from his head to his buttocks, his lungs penetrated by pellets. He bled to death.
The victim’s body was found about 6:15 a.m. Detectives later that morning cordoned off the lot with yellow crime tape and orange flags.
Detectives later arrested Roberts.
More than 12 years later, Alexander became the prime suspect after a two-year investigation by State Police, whose detectives started looking at the case in August 2012 at the request of the St. Martin Parish District Attorney’s Office.
“Alexander was developed as a suspect during the course of our investigation,” David said, declining further comment.
Alexander had been no stranger to the case. He was charged with accessory to murder and became prosecutors’ chief witness against Roberts, but failed to show up at Roberts’ trial in 2007, forcing prosecutors to withdraw the charges against Roberts.
In 2008, another grand jury indicted Roberts again on a first-degree murder charge.
Chester Cedars, first assistant district attorney for St. Martin Parish, said the case turned during a court hearing in summer 2012, when information came out that suggested Roberts might not have pulled the trigger.
“It caught my attention,” Cedars said Wednesday. He said Latiolais’ family members asked him to take another look, and the St. Martin Sheriff’s Office agreed to let State Police look into it “with a different set of eyes.”
Cedars also said witnesses who previously had been silent came forward.
Armed with new State Police findings in an old case, the District Attorney’s Office presented the case to a grand jury on Friday, Cedars said.
“The bottom line is, all of this culminated in the arrest of Marshall Alexander,” he said.
Roberts’ attorney, Alfred Boustany II, said his client for years has had the charge hanging over his head.
“The case has simply remained pending at this time,” Boustany said. “They (prosecutors) have not moved forward.”
Alexander remains in the St. Martin Parish Jail, where Wednesday he was being held without bail.
“While it’s taken a while, this proves the system does work when you let the system work,” Cedars said.