A Baton Rouge man pleaded guilty Monday to armed robbery and accessory charges in the 2007 slaying of one of two LSU graduate students from India, setting the stage for prosecutors to “target” two other suspects, including the alleged shooter.
State District Judge Chip Moore set a Sept. 27 sentencing date for Devin Jamell Parker, 22.
Parker, Casey Gathers and Michael Lewis were booked in May 2008 in the killings of Kiran Kumar Allam and Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, but only Parker was indicted several months later.
Gathers and Lewis were released from Parish Prison in September 2008.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday a grand jury will be convened “within a few weeks’’ to take Parker’s testimony.
Gathers, the alleged shooter, and Lewis will be “targets’’ of the grand jury probe, the district attorney said.
“This is an important case. We’ve been following it ever since we took office (in January 2009). It’s taken us two and a half years to get to this point,’’ he added.
Parker’s attorney, Jim Holt, said Parker has agreed to testify truthfully in any future legal proceedings.
Gathers is not in custody, Moore said.
Lewis is being held on first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges in a Feb. 13 shooting that killed a 14-year-old boy while the boy was buying candy from a home on St. Gerard Avenue. A 17-year-old boy also was wounded in the incident.
The district attorney said Lewis is not the alleged shooter in the February incident.
Parker was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Allam, 33, and Komma, 31, at Allam’s Edward Gay apartment on Dec. 13, 2007.
Jury selection was set to begin Monday, but instead Parker pleaded guilty to an amended indictment before any prospective jurors were questioned.
Prosecutor Steve Danielson told the judge that Parker agreed to plead guilty to the armed robbery of Allam and to accessory after the fact to second-degree murder in the killing of Allam.
“Are you pleading guilty to these charges freely and voluntarily?’’ the judge asked Parker.
“Yes sir,’’ replied Parker, dressed in a black and white West Baton Rouge Parish Prison jumpsuit.
Under Louisiana law, armed robbery carries a sentence of 10 to 99 years and accessory after the fact carries a sentence of up to 5 years.
Parker had told authorities in videotaped statements that he was with Gathers and Lewis when they forced Allam and Komma into a campus apartment before the men were fatally shot.
An arrest warrant says Parker identified Gathers, now 23, as the triggerman and also told police he and Lewis, now 22, were involved in the crime.
Parker admitted in the statements to authorities that he was inside the Edward Gay apartment and watched one of the students cry out for help moments before he was shot while trying to flee.
Parker said in the statements that he ran from the apartment with that student’s wallet and a Nextel cell phone he found in the apartment, and was outside when the second student was shot.
Parker said he threw the wallet away but kept the $40 it contained.
Parker accused Lewis of taking the second man’s wallet, which contained $80. He said the money was split.
Prosecutor Adam Haney told the judge that Parker “assisted his co-defendants in evading capture.’’
Allam’s pregnant wife found the men’s bodies inside the apartment, officials investigating the case have said. Both men were shot in the head and one was bound.
Allam was a chemistry student from Hyderabad, India. Komma was a biology student from Kurnool, India.