Juvenile Court judges push for move to downtown Baton Rouge courthouse, claim safety is a concern at current building _lowres (copy)

The 19th Judicial District Courthouse is located on North Blvd. in downtown Baton Rouge. 

A Baton Rouge man accused of fatally shooting his longtime girlfriend more than five years ago is being tried this week on second-degree murder, but Jason Allen Bringier's attorney is calling it an accident.

Lucinda Ann White, a 30-year-old mother of three young boys, two of whom she had with Bringier, was shot in the head on March 24, 2014, inside her Toulon Street apartment.

Bringier, 38, initially told deputies that White accidentally shot herself, but later said he shot her but that it was accidental, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office has said.

"Every death is a tragedy, but not every death is a crime," Brady Skinner, who represents Bringier, told an East Baton Rouge Parish jury in his opening statement Wednesday afternoon.

A second-degree murder conviction would carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Jurors were shown photographs of the blood-soaked bed in an upstairs child's bedroom where White was found lying face up and sideways with her arms at her side. A black .40-caliber pistol was next to a pillow near the headboard.

Blood could be seen in other photographs on a wall and closet door next to the bed. The door to that bedroom was damaged.

Prosecutor April Leon told the jury that Bringier called his mother before calling 911, telling her that White had shot herself in the head.

Bringier told a deputy at the scene that White went into the child's bedroom to retrieve some clothing, while holding a gun, and that he heard a gunshot shortly thereafter, Leon said.

Bringier said the damage to the bedroom door was caused by a child throwing a ball several months earlier, she said.

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's crime scene supervisor Marlon Roundtree testified Wednesday that the damaged door looked as if it had been struck by a fist.

Skinner told the jury that White was standing on a toy chest to remove clothes from the top of a closet when Bringier entered the room and found a gun on the bed. He said Bringier grabbed the gun, and when White stumbled off the chest, the gun fired and she was struck and killed.

Leon, who noted that an autopsy revealed White suffered an angled contact wound to the head, told the panel that the evidence collected in the case paints "a different picture" than the one described by Bringier.

Roundtree said gunpowder particles were discovered on Bringier's left hand and both sides of his face.

The trial will resume Thursday. Ad hoc Judge Bruce Bennett is presiding over it.

Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.