Denham Springs man challenging murder conviction, life sentence in girlfriend’s heroin death

Jarret J. McCasland

The state Supreme Court refused Monday to reconsider a Denham Springs man's untimely appeal of his murder conviction and life prison term in the 2013 heroin overdose of his 19-year-old girlfriend.

The high court declined last year to hear Jarret McCasland's appeal because the court received his paperwork from his appellate attorneys less than three minutes past a midnight deadline in May 2017.

One of those attorneys, Chris Alexander, blamed the late filing on a computer glitch.

The Supreme Court on Monday chose not to consider McCasland's application for reconsideration filed by his new lawyers, Jim Boren and Sam Winston. Chief Justice Bernette Johnson and Justice Jeff Hughes said they would have considered the merits of the case.

Boren said he's disappointed the Supreme Court declined to reopen the matter, and added that he and Winston will file for post-conviction relief in both state and federal court.

McCasland, 30, was the first person found guilty of second-degree murder in East Baton Rouge Parish under a seldom used provision of that murder statute that allows police to arrest someone on the charge if distributing or dispensing an illegal drug is the direct cause of the death.

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The provision doesn't require prosecutors to show a defendant specifically intended to kill.

McCasland's unanimous conviction and sentence were affirmed by the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in April 2017.

His trial attorney, Rodney Messina, argued to the jury that Flavia "Cathy" Cardenas, 19,  purchased the heroin and injected herself with a fatal dose at her mother's house in Baton Rouge on July 26, 2013.

But a friend of Cardenas testified she saw McCasland inject Cardenas with heroin and cocaine earlier that evening at the friend's house.

McCasland, who did not testify in his own defense, told sheriff's detectives he injected Cardenas with cocaine the evening before she died but not heroin.

Three months before she died, Cardenas and McCasland were arrested together on drug charges.

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