ST. FRANCISVILLE — Jurors in Angola inmate Robert G. Carley’s first-degree murder trial listened Friday to a recorded interview in which the defendant admitted he helped plan an escape attempt but said no one was supposed to get hurt.
The escape plan fell apart in the Camp D Education Building at Louisiana State Penitentiary on Dec. 28, 1999, and the would-be escapees killed security Capt. David C. Knapps and took two other officers as hostages.
The state is seeking the death penalty against Carley, 43, and four other defendants. A sixth suspect, inmate Joel Durham, was shot to death during the hostage rescue.
Over the objections of defense attorneys, jurors also viewed pre-autopsy photographs of Knapps’ bloody body, including close-ups of deep head wounds Dr. Alfredo Suarez testified were the primary cause of Knapps’ death.
The photographs were projected on a screen, and at least two of the jurors averted their eyes for some of the time while Suarez described the wounds he found on Knapps’ body.
In addition to the fatal head wounds that the pathologist said were consistent with blows from hard plastic leatherworking mallets recovered from the crime scene, Knapps had stab wounds that matched two crude weapons, a long spike with a wooden handle and a scissors blade.
Carley told prison investigator Warren Melancon, West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Ivy Cutrer and State Police Detective Steve Dewey he armed himself with the scissors blade but denied stabbing Knapps, according to the recording.
Carley said the plan he and Durham devised was to grab some officers, put on their clothes, walk out of the camp’s front gate and hot-wire a car to drive away.
When Dewey asked why the six inmates armed themselves if no one was supposed to get hurt, Carley replied, “It was to scare them, and then you had a whole bunch of inmates down there and you got to have something to show them to stay in class.”
After Carley’s denials that he was not involved in killing Knapps, Dewey told the suspect he was showing stress when questioned about the fatal attack.
“Your conscience knows the truth, and your mouth is telling a lie, and the two are fighting,” Dewey said during the interview.
Under cross-examination, Dewey, now retired, said the intense questioning was not designed to get Carley to confess to something he didn’t do.
“My goal was to get him to tell the truth,” Dewey said.
Three DNA analysts also testified Friday, with Alan Keel of a private California forensic laboratory, telling jurors he found Knapps’ blood on a “long john” shirt, which he also said contained enough of Carley’s DNA to show he was the “habitual wearer” of that article of underwear.
Keel also said he found Knapps’ DNA in a bloodstain on a sock a sheriff’s deputy took from Carley.
Former State Police Crime Lab analyst Carolyn Booker testified she found a spot of Knapps’ blood on Carley’s left shoe, and her colleague, George Schiro, said Knapps’ blood was found on the “long john” pants, shirt and two socks.
Keel said DNA on the pants showed them as being worn by Carley.