On cusp of release for manslaughter rap, New Orleans man booked on murder count in 1991 slaying _lowres

Mugshot of Carl Narcisse

Fueled by the drug trade, New Orleans’ murder toll was steadily marching toward a historic high in 1991. So the killing on April 18 inside an apartment on Florida Avenue attracted hardly any attention.

Geric Flowers was two weeks shy of his 21st birthday when he was shot to death. He was just another young murder victim in a city that would rack up 345 killings that year.

On Wednesday, more than a quarter-century later, 43-year-old Carl Narcisse was booked on a first-degree murder count in connection with Flowers’ death.

Narcisse’s booking came on the same day he attained “good time” status on his sentence in a separate, 1995 killing for which he was convicted of manslaughter.

It’s not clear why it took decades for Narcisse to be booked on the 1991 killing. A warrant for his arrest in that case was issued in 1998.

The Orleans Public Defenders office was appointed to represent Narcisse for his first appearance in the new case. Spokeswoman Lindsey Hortenstine said attorneys there were “baffled” by the long lapse between when the warrant was issued and when Narcisse was rebooked.

An FBI/NOPD Task Force arrested Narcisse in May 1995 in connection with the killing three months earlier of 24-year-old Stanford Allen, who was shot inside an abandoned apartment in the Desire housing complex, according to a Times-Picayune article from the time.

Narcisse pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with that killing in January 1997 and received a 40-year sentence, according to court records.

Darryl Campbell, a state Department of Public Safety and Corrections spokesman, said that because of good behavior in prison, Narcisse achieved “good time” status for the manslaughter conviction on June 15. That meant he was due to be a free man — were it not for the fact that in 1998, New Orleans homicide detectives had obtained a warrant for his arrest in the Flowers killing.

The state and the New Orleans Police Department offered differing accounts of what happened next.

Tyler Gamble, an NOPD spokesman, said Narcisse was released from custody after a May 26 court hearing and was not arrested on the earlier killing until a month later. But according to Campbell, Narcisse was never a free man. Instead, Campbell said, Narcisse was sent from prison back to jail in Orleans Parish to face the outstanding murder count.

Now it will be up to the District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to charge Narcisse. Spokesman Chris Bowman declined to comment on that pending decision.

But speaking generally, Bowman said, “cases don’t get better with time.”

A copy of Narcisse’s murder warrant suggests authorities will have a difficult time pursuing the case against him. Police offered at most circumstantial evidence tying him to the shooting of Flowers.

Police said two witnesses put Narcisse in the area shortly before the shooting. If anything happened around there, the witnesses told police, Narcisse told them to say “they didn’t see him.” He reportedly was in the company of two other men.

Another witness, according to the warrant, identified Narcisse as “one of the individuals” leaving the apartment building at 3535 Florida Ave. after Flowers was shot about 6 p.m.

Those witnesses painted at best a partial picture of who may have shot Flowers. And 25 years after his death, it’s not clear whether authorities will be able to find them to repeat their accusations.

But Narcisse remained jailed without bail Monday on a first-degree murder count.

Hortenstine said Orleans Public Defenders will not be able to represent him as the case moves forward because of restrictions preventing the financially strapped office from taking on new defendants in capital cases.