ST. FRANCISVILLE — The judge presiding over the Angola 5 first-degree murder cases listened Thursday to arguments concerning a disputed $34,000 invoice in the trial of defendant Robert G. Carley.
Judge Jerome M. Winsberg did not rule in the matter, but said he would supply a transcript of the hearing to 20th Judicial District Judge George H. Ware Jr., who has been reviewing invoices submitted in the proceedings.
The state Department of Public Safety and Corrections is paying most of the costs associated with the murder cases because the five Angola inmates are accused of killing security officer Capt. David C. Knapps in 1999 at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
A 12-member jury chosen in St. Tammany Parish convicted Carley, 43, of first-degree murder last month, but could not unanimously agree on imposing the death penalty.
Winsberg later sentenced Carley to another life term, as required by law when a jury cannot agree on the sentence.
Before Carley’s trial, corrections attorney Billy Kline said the cost to the state of prosecuting and defending the defendants was nearing $7 million.
The $34,000 invoice is for legal work by a New York law firm engaged by Carley’s defense team to serve subpoenas on possible defense witnesses, but Ware declined to approve it.
Carley’s attorneys, Clayton M. Perkins and Tommy Thompson, hired the firm, and went to Winsberg seeking funds for the cost of serving out-of-state subpoenas.
Subpoenas issued through Louisiana criminal courts lack the force of law in other states, according to statements made in Thursday’s hearings.
Testifying via Skype, Rochester, N.Y., lawyer Gregory Piede testified he had scheduled 41 civil hearings before New York judges in an attempt to get court orders requiring the witnesses to appear in Louisiana.
Although 33 of the hearings were cancelled when the defense decided not to call the New Yorkers as witnesses, an extensive amount of legal work went into setting up the hearings, Piede said.
In declining to rule in the matter, Winsberg said he was never informed that the out-of-state subpoenas would “incur this kind of cost” or that the defense attorneys had hired a New York firm to assist them.
Kline said the invoice is an unreasonable expense. “I’m not an open checkbook,” he said.
For $34,000, the lawyers could have flown to New York, learned the procedure for enforcing subpoenas, gotten temporary appointments to press their cases and served the subpoenas with the help of a local sheriff’s deputy or New York correctional officer, Kline said.
A jury convicted Jeffrey Cameron Clark in May of Knapps’ murder and sentenced him to death.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Oct. 17 for the third trial, that of inmate David Brown.