Too drunk for intent to kill? District judge said so and verdict in Baton Rouge homicide case now before appeals court _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Derrick Bland is escorted to a transport car after he was arrested in the shooting death his brother-in-law during a dispute at a family gathering.

A Baton Rouge man was grossly intoxicated when he fatally shot his brother-in-law in 2013, and his lawyers argue that a state judge acted properly in reversing a jury’s unanimous second-degree murder conviction and instead finding him guilty of negligent homicide.

That’s the written argument Derrick Bland’s attorneys have made in asking a state appellate court to affirm District Judge Trudy White’s August finding.

East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors have asked the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to reinstate Bland’s March murder conviction in the July 28, 2013, killing of James “Mucci” Stockton, 40.

Mark Plaisance, one of Bland’s attorneys, claims in documents filed late last week that White correctly accepted Bland’s intoxication defense and ruled he did not have the specific intent to kill Stockton outside his brother-in-law’s North Lobdell Boulevard apartment.

Plaisance contends Bland, 50, consumed alcohol continuously for more than 10 hours before the shooting without eating breakfast, lunch or snacks.

“The evidence in this case indicates that Bland was extremely intoxicated on the day of the incident, drinking in excess of 65 one-ounce shots of pure alcohol in addition to as much as a case of beer,” Plaisance argues. “His actions that day were controlled by his intoxication, which prevented him from forming any intent to commit second-degree murder.

“In simple terms, Bland’s intoxication precluded any ability to make decisions and act with reason.”

Bland shot Stockton three times, then walked up to his brother-in-law and shot him three more times while he was on the ground, according to trial testimony.

In written arguments filed at the appeals court last month, Assistant District Attorney Dylan Alge claims that deliberately pointing and firing a deadly weapon at close range demonstrates specific intent to kill. Alge says Bland intended to kill or hurt Stockton because Stockton had cursed Bland and kicked him out of his home.

Bland left the apartment to buy cigarettes and returned 30 to 45 minutes later, waiting underneath a tree next to Stockton’s apartment, the prosecutor contends.

Bland testified he shot Stockton out of reflex, believing Stockton would confront him a second time.

Plaisance argues that negligent homicide, which carries up to five years in prison, is the appropriate verdict because even manslaughter requires specific intent.

“Negligent homicide, on the other hand, does not require intent but is proper when a defendant kills a human being by criminal negligence,” he says.

A second-degree murder conviction would carry an automatic sentence of life in prison for Bland.

Bland has not been sentenced.