Jury selection is set to begin Monday in the case of a former death row inmate now accused in the 2010 killing of a 26-year-old West Bank woman after a dispute over a food stamp card.
Curtis Kyles, 56, has been in jail on a charge of second-degree murder since June 2010, when the body of Crystal St. Pierre was found in the woods near U.S. 90 in Avondale. Her body was bruised and she had a .38-caliber bullet in her head.
Investigators said witnesses at St. Pierre’s Algiers apartment complex said they saw Kyles and Chicwanda Forbes force St. Pierre out of her apartment on June 10. They said Kyles prevented them from intervening by pretending he had a weapon.
The witnesses said they had reported the incident to New Orleans police but it was treated as a complaint instead of a kidnapping.
After Kyles and Forbes were arrested in Mississippi, Forbes — who is now serving a 15-year sentence after she pleaded guilty to the kidnapping — turned on Kyles.
Forbes said Kyles had bought a Louisiana Purchase food stamp card from St. Pierre but soon found it did not have as much money left on it as St. Pierre had said it did. Forbes said Kyles had her beat St. Pierre as punishment before they took her to Avondale, where she said Kyles shot St. Pierre.
Kyles’ arrest drew particular attention because his 1984 murder conviction had been overturned in 1995.
Kyles was accused of shooting and killing Delores Dye in a Schwegmann Bros. Supermarket parking lot in Gentilly. After a mistrial, he was convicted and sentenced to death.
But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction, finding that then-New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr.’s office and New Orleans police had withheld evidence that would have been favorable to his defense. Three subsequent attempts to convict Kyles in the shooting ended in mistrials.
Kyles’ latest trial will be held before Judge Glenn Ansardi in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.