The man accused of fatally shooting Baton Rouge Police Lt. Glenn Hutto Jr. in April is indigent and in need of two lawyers certified to handle death penalty cases, a state judge has been told.

State Public Defender Remy Starns and East Baton Rouge Parish District Defender Mike Mitchell filed court papers Friday stating they are unable to assign lawyers to represent Ronnie Kato "due to a combination of existing workload and a lack of adequate resources."

"Where the state public defender and the district public defender are unable to assign ... counsel, this court nevertheless has the authority and the responsibility to ensure that the defendant's right to counsel is vindicated by the appointment of counsel," Starns and Mitchell wrote to 19th Judicial District Judge Richard Anderson.

The public defenders are asking the judge to appoint two lawyers certified to handle capital murder cases to represent Kato, 36. "Should counsel then request, this court may then be called upon to determine a source of funds for that appointment but the law is clear that the appointment of counsel must be made first," they wrote.

Attached to the court filing is a list of lawyers currently certified for trial-level capital case representation. The groups include the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office and several New Orleans-based organizations: Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, Capital Appeals Project, and Promise of Justice Initiative.

The day after Hutto's April 26 slaying, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office planned to seek the death penalty against Kato.

Detectives believe Kato fatally shot his girlfriend's stepfather, 58-year-old Curtis Richardson, on North Pamela Drive off North Sherwood Forest Drive the morning of April 26, then shot two Baton Rouge police officers looking for him at a home on Conrad Drive off Winbourne Avenue and North Foster Drive that afternoon.

Hutto, 45, was shot and killed, and Cpl. Derrick Maglone was critically injured.

Kato barricaded himself in a house after the shooting and was taken into custody after a standoff with police that lasted several hours.

Maglone, 35, was released from the hospital May 7.


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