Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office has declined to bring a kidnapping charge against a man accused of forcing a nightclub dancer into a car near Bourbon Street and then leaving her on Interstate 10 in Metairie, where she was fatally struck by a vehicle.
Adam Littleton has been transferred to Jefferson Parish, where he is being held on $500,000 bail, to face the second-degree murder count lodged against him there.
Cannizzaro’s office and Littleton’s defense attorney offered sharply diverging views on whether the decision not to bring the kidnapping charge signals weakness in the case against him or is simply a procedural step to allow the murder case to proceed.
Authorities allege that in the early morning of June 10, Littleton, 23, kidnapped his girlfriend, Jasilas Wright, 19, from the Stiletto’s Cabaret club on Bourbon Street after a bitter argument. Littleton allegedly told Wright’s relatives later that he either let her out of his car on Interstate 10 or that she suddenly leaped from the car.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has said Wright begged Littleton to let her out of the car but he refused. Any death, even unintentional, that occurs during a kidnapping can be treated as a murder under Louisiana law. But it may prove difficult for prosecutors to prove that Wright was kidnapped without an independent eyewitness.
On Aug. 4, a magistrate judge found probable cause for the second-degree kidnapping charge against Littleton. Cannizzaro’s office, however, refused that charge on Monday.
Littleton’s defense attorney, Greg Carter, claimed that testimony from State Trooper Gustave Bethea during a preliminary probable cause hearing showed that the case was weak.
“There was little to no evidence that the young lady unwillingly got into the car or was unwillingly with Mr. Littleton that night,” Carter said. “She was willingly with him, willingly in the car, so there was never really a kidnapping.”
Bethea testified at the hearing that investigators had failed to find an eyewitness or video proving that Wright was kidnapped, according to nola.com. Nor did the young woman call or text friends asking for help, the detective testified.
But Cannizzaro spokesman Christopher Bowman said the kidnapping charge was refused simply to allow Jefferson Parish to proceed with its prosecution of the murder charge, which carries a potential life sentence.
“It had nothing to do with the evidence or the quality of the evidence, which we believe was strong,” Bowman said.
Carter now intends to press Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office to drop the murder case, as well.
“I think everybody agrees that what happened to this young lady was a tragedy,” Carter said. “I think it would be a tragedy as well to stick this man with a second-degree murder charge.”