ST. FRANCISVILLE — A retired Louisiana State Penitentiary security lieutenant told a jury Thursday “I thought I was going to die” when inmates took him hostage at the prison nearly 12 years ago.
Douglas Chaney, 56, testified on the third day of the first-degree murder trial of Angola inmate Robert G. Carley, 43, in the stabbing and beating death of security Capt. David C. Knapps, 49, on Dec. 28, 1999.
The state is seeking the death penalty against Carley and other defendants in the case. A jury convicted Jeffrey Cameron Clark in Knapps’ slaying in May and sentenced him to death.
Chaney testified he was afraid for his life during his ordeal in the Education Building at Angola’s Camp D.
“When was the last time you worked at Angola?” prosecutor Mike Futrell, of Jefferson Parish, asked.
“Dec. 28, 1999,” Chaney replied, later saying he was under psychiatric care for about six years.
Chaney said he was attacked when he entered the building to return a set of keys to a storage room that doubled as a security office.
Dazed after his head hit the concrete floor during a struggle with at least two of the inmates, Chaney said Carley approached him at one point with a set of officers’ keys and demanded to know which key opened a door leading to a visiting area.
Carley, who had seized an officer’s radio, threatened to kill him, but Chaney said he did not point out the key Carley wanted.
Chaney said he saw that blood had soaked the bottom of Carley’s pants and that he was holding a weapon.
Chaney also identified inmates Joel Durham, Barry Edge, David Brown and David Mathis as being involved in holding him and Sgt. Reddia Walker against their will.
Chaney said he did not know their names at the time, but he put the faces with names when he saw their pictures in a Dec. 30, 1999, article in The Advocate.
Durham was shot to death when Angola officers stormed the building to rescue Chaney and Walker, finding that Knapps had died in a bloody confrontation in an employee restroom.
Charles R. Cockerham, a lieutenant in the camp who also did not return to work after Knapps was killed, testified Carley and Mathis attempted to take him hostage when he investigated why Walker was not at her post.
Cockerham said Carley threatened to kill one of the hostages if Cockerham did not surrender.
“We’ve already killed Capt. Knapps; there’s no going back now,” Cockerham said Carley told him.
Four Angola inmates and a former inmate also testified Thursday, adding details about Carley’s alleged participation in the planning and execution of the botched escape attempt.
Inmate James Hebert said Carley was acting strangely and gave him some of his belongings, including cigarettes that are often used as money in prison.
Mathis gave him a snakeskin belt, Hebert said.
“He said he wouldn’t be needing it,” Hebert said.
The jury, chosen Tuesday in Covington for the West Feliciana Parish trial, will visit the Camp D Education Building before testimony resumes Friday, presiding Judge Jerome M. Winsberg said.