The recent murder-for-hire trial of Monique O. Kitts, the woman found guilty on Nov. 20 of hiring Karl Michael Howard to fatally shoot her husband four years ago, had all the sex, scandal and twists that make entertaining episodes of “Law & Order” water-cooler moments at work the next day.
And at the center of the trial were the antics of Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton and defense lawyer Allen Myles, who transformed the courtroom into a theater of sorts as they argued their sides of the case with periodic bursts of name-calling and finger pointing.
During closing arguments, Clayton called Myles a “carnival barker” who he said was attempting to sell the West Baton Rouge Parish jury on his client’s innocence with the same flair barkers once used to sell tickets to the circus.
Myles described Clayton as a “puppetmaster” who manipulated witnesses and distorted facts to falsely portray his client as a woman “hellbent on getting rich quick” by having her husband killed.
During his closing arguments, Myles used audio from a television news interview featuring the prosecution’s star witness, Corey Knox, who told a reporter “I don’t know nothing ...” about Corey Kitts’ murder when he was arrested last year on charges related to the slaying.
Myles used the audio snippet in a call-and-response jingle, in which he fired off to the jury a list of reasonable doubt elements in the prosecution’s case. Myles bookended each statement he made with Knox’s “I don’t know!” sound bite.
Clayton retorted by beatboxing a freestyle rap of his own in court. The lyrics went something like, “My name is Monique Kitts. I had my husband murdered in a hit!”
Parish president dinged for missing meetings
Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks came under fire Monday when he missed yet another Parish Council meeting — this time, to attend a Denham Springs City Council meeting to voice his opposition to council-backed changes to the parish charter.
During a lengthy discussion of the proposed amendments Monday night, Councilman Marshall Harris said Ricks had missed 14 Parish Council meetings this year.
“Fourteen meetings in a year is a lot of misses,” Harris said.
Actually, Ricks has missed eight regular council meetings, plus three special meetings discussing the proposed charter amendments in 2014, according to meeting minutes provided by the Parish Council office.
Some of parish government’s most contested topics were discussed during those missed meetings: flooding on Eden Church Road, council access to administration records, a contract with a new road engineering firm Ricks signed without council approval and a legal dispute with the parish’s former road engineering firm, Alvin Fairburn & Associates, where Ricks worked before taking office in 2012.
Ricks missed fewer meetings in previous years: five regular meetings in 2013 and three in 2012, including one held the day after his father died.
Ricks said he misses meetings primarily because he is elsewhere handling parish business, but he always has a representative at the meeting “to cover.”
Ricks took issue with the council’s refusal to allow Finance Director Jennifer Meyers to present his views on the charter amendments in his absence Monday.
“By not allowing (her) to respond when at the same time complaining I’m not there is pathetic,” Ricks said. “This, again, is them trying to attack me from any way they can, and once again it’s for no valid reason.”
Councilwoman Cindy Wale Franz said it’s ridiculous that Ricks goes behind the council members’ backs to talk about the issues.
“Who’s not trying to get along with whom?” Franz said.
Deputy assessor can’t hold job, elective office
Ascension Parish Assessor M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. recently asked the Attorney General’s Office if a full-time deputy assessor could run for the Gonzales City Council and, if elected, continue to serve as a deputy assessor.
The response came back as a no.
The office of deputy assessor is considered an appointive office, and, as such, according to Louisiana’s Dual Officeholding and Dual Employment Law, a person in that job can’t also hold an elective office.
Smiley said he sought the opinion when he learned that one of the deputy assessors in his office was considering running for office if seats become open on the Gonzales City Council, following the Dec. 6 recall election for two of the councilmen.
Smiley declined to identify the deputy assessor considering running for office, saying he wasn’t at liberty to say. He said his office employs 20 deputy assessors.
Advocate staff writers Terry L. Jones, Heidi Kinchen and Ellyn Couvillion contributed to this article.