A Hahnville man accused of gunning down another man at the Oakwood shopping mall on Christmas Eve pleaded not guilty Friday in state district court.
Gary M. François, 26, who was indicted by a Jefferson Parish grand jury Thursday on a charge of second-degree murder, entered his plea in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
François, who has been in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center since his arrest on the evening of the shooting, is being held on $750,000 bail.
Authorities say surveillance footage shows François waiting among the last-minute Christmas shoppers outside the Foot Locker store in the Terrytown mall as James Vaughn, 24, makes a purchase at the counter, then walking into the shoe store and shooting him.
François then ran from the mall as other shoppers fled for the exits, authorities said. He was arrested by Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies at Wright and Cherry Blossom lanes.
A detective with the Sheriff’s Office testified during a hearing in February that surveillance video shows François walking up to Vaughn and shooting him four times, then once more as Vaughn lies on the store’s floor.
Michael Kennedy, François’ attorney, however, noted on Friday that testimony during the hearing also revealed the .40-caliber handgun found by investigators included a fingerprint that did not match François’ and that his fingerprints were not found on the weapon.
A discovery hearing is scheduled for April 23, and Kennedy said he is eager to get access to the evidence the District Attorney’s Office has against his client.
Authorities have not identified a possible motive but say François knew Vaughn, who lived in Harvey.
François was previously reported to have lived in Marrero, but he filed a notice with the court Friday indicating he lives in Hahnville.
The case will be heard by Judge Lee Faulkner.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.