Ending more than a year of speculation, a St. Tammany Parish grand jury on Thursday refused to indict Kacie Breen for fatally shooting her husband, Wayne Breen, in the garage of the couple’s Folsom-area home in the early morning hours of March 1, 2015.
Kacie Breen has never denied shooting her husband, a popular local doctor, saying she fired in self-defense.
District Attorney Warren Montgomery said in a statement that prosecutors had presented all the evidence they had but that none of it ultimately contradicted Kacie Breen’s account: that she feared for her life as her husband held her pinned to her SUV while she was trying to leave to go to her mother’s.
According to court documents, Kacie Breen has said she was able to reach a handgun she kept in the door pouch of the vehicle. She said she fired once, causing Wayne Breen to jump back, and then fired again as he lunged forward.
The grand jury came to the same conclusion as Sheriff Jack Strain, who never arrested Kacie Breen during a four-month investigation.
The grand jury’s decision means the fight over whether Kacie Breen should be held liable for her husband’s death remains in civil court, where several of Wayne Breen’s children from a previous marriage have sued her for wrongful death. That suit and another, challenging Wayne Breen’s will, are still pending.
Kacie Breen’s attorney, Richard Ducote, said that while the news of the grand jury’s decision was welcome, it was not a cause for celebration.
“It was all a very tragic situation,” he said. “It was a choice between his survival and Kacie’s survival.”
An attorney for the Breen children said his clients were disappointed in the result but have not wavered in their resolve to see Kacie Breen held to account.
“From the beginning, we have said that regardless of what happens with the criminal charges, we intend to civilly convict Kacie Magee Breen of wrongfully killing Dr. Breen,” attorney Rene Frederick said.
From the instant the killing became known, the case has been the subject of intense scrutiny.
Within a week of his death, Kacie Breen had filed a copy of her husband’s will in court, but it was almost immediately challenged by some of the Breen children, especially after it became known that Kacie Breen had not filed an original copy, as required by law.
Eventually, the challenge to the will was put on hold to allow the criminal investigation and wrongful-death suit to play out first.
In the months following the shooting, Ducote released a series of filings that portrayed Wayne Breen as a volatile man with a well-known temper who had become even more threatening in the weeks leading up to his death.
According to court documents filed by Ducote, the couple’s relationship was unraveling because of revelations that Wayne Breen had fabricated stories about serving in the military during the Vietnam War. He allegedly used those stories both to seduce women and to justify his outbursts, the documents said.
Kacie Breen said she had recently discovered that he spent his entire military service in the U.S.
That discovery, she said in court documents, sent Wayne over the edge, making him more angry than normal. His military service was the source of their argument the night she shot him, she said.
In addition, Kacie Breen has filed a defamation suit against online commenters — many of them former patients of the doctor — who have attacked her on social media, calling her a “gold digger,” “cold-blooded murderer” and worse.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.