Prosecutors said Thursday they want to try a Baton Rouge man separately in the shooting deaths of his girlfriend's stepfather and a police officer because the woman and her mother won't cooperate with the state.

Ronnie Kato, 37, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Curtis Richardson and Baton Rouge Police Lt. Glenn Dale Hutto Jr. just hours apart on April 26, 2020.

Authorities say Kato killed Richardson, 58, his girlfriend’s stepfather, during a domestic dispute on North Pamela Drive. He’s believed to have fatally shot Hutto, 45, several hours later while police were searching for Kato at a home on Conrad Drive.

In a motion filed Thursday to sever the murder counts, East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings said Richardson's wife, who is the mother of Kato's girlfriend, also was present at the Pamela Drive scene. She said both women are "necessary witnesses" to the prosecution in the Richardson slaying.

"Both ... have exhibited hostility to members of the District Attorney's Office and have indicated that they will not cooperate with the prosecution in the cases," Cummings wrote.

She said the state would be prejudiced during its pursuit of pretrial motions and at Kato's trial for the killing of Hutto if forced to prosecute the two murder counts together.

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"The family of Glenn Dale Hutto has the right to a fair and speedy trial which will not be possible unless the count for his murder is severed from the murder of Curtis Richardson so that Glenn Dale Hutto's case can progress to trial," Cummings stated.

One of Kato's lawyers, Sean Collins, said Thursday he was still reviewing the state's motion and had no comment on it.

Kato also allegedly shot Cpl. Derrick Maglone in the police encounter. Maglone was critically injured but released from the hospital May 7, 2020.

A detective previously testified that Kato ambushed the officers with an assault-style rifle as they searched for him in the backyard of a Conrad Drive home. The same rifle was used to kill Hutto and Richardson, the detective said.

Hutto, a 21-year veteran of the police force and a sergeant at the time of his death, received the rank of lieutenant posthumously.


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