A defense attorney blasted Tuesday at the credibility of two men who say they heard a man confess in jail to the execution-style slaying of a 15-year-old girl.
Attorney John Fuller said neither jailhouse witness can be trusted to tell the truth about Eric Adams, who is accused of gunning down Christine Marcelin and dumping her body in a remote area of New Orleans East in 2012.
Adams, 23, is charged in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and obstruction of justice.
Authorities allege that he drove the teenage girl to her death after a vigil for his brother Brandon Adams, who had been killed three days before.
Marcelin's body was found by a homeless man in the 500 block of Alcee Fortier Boulevard on the morning of April 30, 2012.
Prosecutors claim that Eric Adams believed Marcelin set in motion the events that led to his brother’s death. Brandon Adams and Christine Marcelin, two students at KIPP Believe College Prep, were dating before their deaths. Both were 15.
The killing of Brandon Adams has never been solved.
A former inmate at the New Orleans jail, Hermade Bradley, told jurors that he overheard Adams tell a group of inmates about killing the girl while he was incarcerated on an unrelated charge in 2012.
As Shawan Adams began wiping away her tears, she recalled how her 15-year-old son was slain …
When those inmates were summoned to the New Orleans Police Department’s headquarters for interviews about the supposed conversation, they denied hearing Adams make that statement, Sgt. Wayne DeLarge testified Monday. But years later, one of them, Ronald Brooks, told police that Adams had indeed confessed to him.
Because no witnesses to the killing have come forward and no DNA evidence or fingerprints tie Adams to it, the jailhouse informants’ testimony is critical to the prosecution's case.
Bradley and Brooks have both had a string of legal troubles themselves. Police said Bradley was referred to them by a Drug Enforcement Agency officer, but he has denied making a deal with authorities for his testimony.
“There’s this DEA agent — who the state chose not to call — who can tell you what that’s all about, and what Mr. Bradley’s getting from the feds for his participation,” Fuller said.
Meanwhile, Brooks admitted that he agreed to testify in exchange for getting only a five-year sentence on a separate charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He was arrested on that charge in 2015.
“He says, ‘Remember that case y’all brought me to the office about in ’12? … Well, I know something now, and I want to get a great deal on that conspiracy to murder case,’ ” Fuller said.
Fuller and co-counsel Greg Carter have laid the blame for the men’s testimony at the feet of Assistant District Attorney Alex Calenda. They allege the prosecutor — whose tactics also came under fire in the recent “39’ers” federal gang case — organized false testimony. Carter dubbed him the “inmate whisperer.”
Addressing the jury after Fuller's closing argument, Calenda said the case was not about him.
“If you want to believe that I’m going to risk my law license, my career, send him home … send him back to the streets of New Orleans because you believe that this is a massive cover-up. Simple as that,” Calenda said.
Calenda said that Brooks had been honest about what he hoped to gain from his cooperation. The defense team has not produced any evidence of a deal with Bradley, he said.
Fuller had also pilloried Bradley in particular for inconsistencies between what he claimed he overheard Adams say in his recounting of the murder and what the Coroner's Office found had happened to the young girl.
Bradley claimed that he heard Adams say he shot the girl in a car. Marcelin died while she was on her knees, the autopsy concluded. Crime scene technicians found 14 shell casings scattered around her body.
Calenda, however, said that inconsistencies between Bradley's and Brooks' testimony and the physical evidence showed that their testimony had not been rehearsed. He said the brutal nature of the killing proved that her executioner had to be someone with a deep grudge.
“The only person with that motive is Eric Adams. That is the only person who would execute a 15-year-old girl on her knees,” Calenda said.