ST. FRANCISVILLE — The judge in the Angola 5 first-degree murder cases denied requests Thursday by defendant David Brown’s attorneys to solicit written comments on potential jurors’ racial attitudes.
Brown, 38, is the only black inmate among the five inmates charged in the Dec. 28, 1999, beating and stabbing death of Louisiana State Penitentiary Capt. David C. Knapps, 49, during an escape attempt.
Brown’s trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Oct. 17. He is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder in Jefferson Parish.
In another of the Angola 5 cases, retired Orleans Parish Judge Jerome M. Winsberg, who is presiding over the trials, sentenced Robert G. Carley to a life sentence Thursday after a jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision Sunday night on whether he should get life or a death sentence.
Carley already is serving a life sentence for the 1987 murder of a gas station attendant in St. Bernard Parish. Winsberg told Carley the life sentence in the Knapps murder is to be “served consecutively with any other sentence you are serving.”
Carley had no comment during sentencing.
Co-defendant Jeffrey Cameron Clark was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in May.
Trials for Barry Edge, 51, and David Mathis, 35, are expected next year.
Jurors for the St. Francisville trials are being chosen in St. Tammany Parish, where white residents make up 83.6 percent of the population, according to the 2010 federal census.
Clark’s jury had no black members, while Carley’s had one black juror and one black alternate juror.
Winsberg earlier denied a motion by Brown’s attorneys, Clay Calhoun and Mark Marinoff, to choose the jury in another parish.
“Race is an unavoidable issue in this case,” Calhoun said Thursday in asking that the jury be told that Brown is the only black man among the defendants.
Calhoun said jurors may have misperceptions about the Angola prison and should know that “Brown is not part of a black gang that killed a white guard.”
Potential jurors will meet in Covington on Oct. 13 to fill out a questionnaire to give to attorneys for the state and the defense background information about themselves .
Calhoun wanted the questionnaire to include several questions he said are designed to gauge the possible jurors’ “racial attitudes and beliefs,” arguing the written questions offer the most sensitive method of determining racial bias.
“I’ve considered them all, and they’re all denied,” Winsberg said.
Prosecutor Juliet Clark, of Jefferson Parish, argued against many of the proposed questions, saying they would make the questionnaire more complicated than necessary.
Winsberg said some of the proposed questions will be allowed, but he also drew the line on asking about potential jurors’ incomes.
“These people are not applying for a loan,” the judge said.