A 23-year-old Baton Rouge man is soon going to be free just four months after he was booked into Parish Prison on a first-degree murder count in the April 2 slaying of a man at a North 35th Street home that was sprayed with bullets.
By law, East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors had 120 days from Christopher Levi Jackson’s June 5 arrest to either formally charge him in the killing of 25-year-old Travis Mitchell or let him be released from jail.
When a parish grand jury pretermitted Jackson’s case Wednesday, meaning the panel neither indicted nor cleared him, Assistant District Attorney Kory Tauzin told 19th Judicial District Commissioner Nicole Robinson that he would have Jackson’s booking status changed and Jackson would be released.
First Assistant District Attorney Prem Burns said afterward that Jackson is by no means out of the woods but that he would be set free this week.
Burns, who noted she was not surprised by the grand jury’s action, said Jackson could face future charges if more evidence is found. She said there simply wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge him with some form of homicide in the case.
Police have said Mitchell was not the intended victim. The intended target escaped unharmed. A third person in the home was wounded.
Based on a chilling and threatening text message sent several hours after the shooting to the sister of the target, police arrested one of the suspected shooters — Jackson, 11160 Susan Ave.
“It’s a chess game. I’m up two moves a head … try again. Bang bang, bang,” the message read, followed by 27 emoticons depicting firearms.
Detectives obtained a copy of the text message six days after the shooting, according to a search warrant.
They asked a judge to approve a search warrant requesting AT&T turn over all records of communications from March 31 to April 15 and cell tower locations for the phone involved. Detectives also asked the court for a non-disclosure clause to keep AT&T, the service provider for the cellphone, from alerting anyone about the search, the warrant says. A judge approved it.
After investigating for nearly six weeks, detectives requested an arrest warrant on May 21 for Jackson. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force picked him up June 6 in Baton Rouge and booked him into Parish Prison on a first-degree murder count.
Neighbors have said two armed men walked up to the house at 1409 N. 35th St. and opened fire, leaving more than 20 bullet holes in the front door and dozens more around it. The home is just off North Acadian Thruway East between Cain Street and Gus Young Avenue.
Neighbors also said the home had previously been the scene of gunfire.