Trung Le, an accused shooter in a Bourbon Street gunfight that killed a Hammond woman and injured nine others in June 2014, will face a new obstruction of justice charge along with the manslaughter and attempted murder allegations for which he is slated to stand trial beginning Monday.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office tacked on the obstruction charge Tuesday but has not detailed exactly how it claims Le, 22, tried to foil an investigation into the shooting, which took the life of Brittany Thomas.
Assistant District Attorney Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue told a judge Tuesday only that the new charge is not based on fresh evidence but relates to “the very beginning of this case.” Rodrigue said she wants to try Le on all three charges next week.
“It’s obstruction in connection with a manslaughter,” she said.
Le, of Belle Chasse, is accused of getting into a shooting match with another, unknown gunman, sparking bloodshed and chaos amid the party crowd in the 700 block of Bourbon Street at 2:45 a.m. June 29, 2014. Le then fled to Mississippi, where authorities caught up with him, and he was extradited back to Louisiana.
The gunfire, coming a few days before the Fourth of July and Essence Fest, jarred French Quarter residents and businesses, and prompted Mayor Mitch Landrieu to ask for state help to bolster police presence in the Quarter. That added State Police presence now is in the neighborhood indefinitely.
Friends who accompanied Le to the Quarter that night — including Robert “Big Red” Benvenuti, who was shot repeatedly in the buttocks — have said they consider Le a hero for defending them against an aggressor who has escaped arrest.
Le’s attorney, Martin Regan, claims the other man pulled out a .40-caliber handgun and cocked it before Le got off the first shot, hitting the man, who then fired away.
Regan says ballistics tests prove Le didn’t fire the shot that mortally wounded Thomas.
The victim of the count of attempted second-degree murder is referred to in court documents only as an “unknown black male,” a description that likely refers to the second shooter. The manslaughter count relates to the killing of Thomas, apparently for Le’s alleged role in provoking the gunfight.
Over the past week, Regan has peppered the court with legal filings, including a request for Criminal District Court Judge Byron C. Williams to order that Regan be paid $50,000 for legal expenses. Regan claims Le is now indigent.
Williams rejected that plea, and Regan on Tuesday was seeking an appellate review of the ruling.
Regan also has been seeking the identities of witnesses who might lend credence to Le’s claim that he fired in self-defense. After more than a year of legal jostling, Williams has ordered Cannizzaro’s office to turn over by noon Wednesday the names of witnesses who may be called to testify.
Regan has gone further, seeking the names of all witnesses to the shooting, regardless of what, if anything, they told authorities. So far he’s been rebuffed in that effort.
Le remains jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail. While behind bars, he picked up a new battery charge, accused of punching a fellow inmate.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.