Terry Flanagan

A Zachary homeowner accused of fatally shooting a fleeing teenage burglar in 2017 and dragging his body into a nearby yard faces a life sentence if convicted of second-degree murder.

But East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors have an ace in the hole if Terry L. Flanagan, 61, is found guilty of a lesser charge or acquitted.

Two months before he allegedly shot and killed Chadarion Brooks Spurlock, 15, on Oct. 21, 2017, Flanagan -- a convicted felon -- committed a theft.

He was found guilty last year on that charge -- theft between $1,000 and $5,000 -- and sentenced to four years in prison by retired state District Judge Tony Marabella.

Now, Assistant District Attorney Lauren Harrell is asking state District Judge Tarvald Smith to declare Flanagan a fourth or subsequent felony offender -- a designation that could subject him to a sentence of 20 years to life behind bars.

Harrell is requesting that Smith vacate Flanagan's prior sentence and resentence him following a habitual offender hearing.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday it was "in the best interest of the safety of the public" to file the habitual offender bill against Flanagan.

"He was previously sentenced to life in prison but paroled, only to be charged within months of his release with both theft and murder charges," Moore noted.

Flanagan's attorney, Carson Marcantel, said he has had no substantial discussions with the state about the habitual offender filing.

Harrell states in court documents that Flanagan has five prior felony convictions.

He was convicted in north Louisiana in 1978 of attempted armed robbery and sentenced to 20 years in prison with a good-time release of 1988. He was again convicted in 1989 on two counts of cocaine distribution and sentenced to five years.

In 1991 he was convicted in West Carroll Parish of simple burglary and simple criminal damage to property and sentenced to six years.

Flanagan pleaded no contest in 1996 in Arkansas to third-offense marijuana possession and was fined $750.

In 1998 he was convicted in Bienville Parish of simple burglary and sentenced to life in prison after the courts found him to be a fourth offender. As Moore noted, he was paroled in 2016.

Flanagan has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2017 Zachary case. His next court date is Jan. 5. 

Flanagan, of the 1100 block of Willow Creek Drive, allegedly caught Spurlock -- a Zachary High School ninth-grader -- and two other boys burglarizing his home. Spurlock jumped out of a window and landed in the yard, where Flanagan shot him once in his side and then again after the boy had fallen to the ground, Zachary police have said.

Moore has said there was no justification for Flanagan to use deadly force against Spurlock because the teen was fleeing the man's home.

A homicide is justifiable under Louisiana law if someone “reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm.” The state's “stand your ground” law also allows killing to prevent an intruder from entering a building or vehicle if the occupant “reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the entry or to compel the intruder to leave.”

The two others who were allegedly with Spurlock the day of the burglary — his cousin Melvin Brooks, 21, and Dwighttess Thomas, 22 -- face simple burglary charges in Baton Rouge state court.

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