A judge refused Friday to toss out a Baton Rouge man's 2016 murder indictment in the strangling of his wife, rejecting his argument that the grand jury that charged him was chosen from the same jury pool that Louisiana's top court earlier this year found to be "improperly constituted."
Donald Wayne Germany II's attorney said she'll ask a state appeals court to review and reverse state District Judge Beau Higginbotham's ruling in the second-degree murder case.
A Baton Rouge man accused of strangling his wife is asking a judge to throw out his 2016 murder indictment, claiming the grand jury that charg…
Assistant Public Defender Margaret Lagattuta argued at a hearing Friday, and in previous court filings, that the East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury that indicted Germany didn't represent a fair cross section of the community because the pool from which the panel was picked excluded young people, among others.
Earlier this year in a Caddo Parish murder case that had been moved to Baton Rouge solely for the purpose of selecting a trial jury, the state Supreme Court concluded that East Baton Rouge's 2019 jury pool was not properly constituted because it excluded — among others — 18- to 25-year-olds. The high court ordered jury selection in that case to start over with a new, properly constituted jury pool.
Administrators at the 19th Judicial District Court have said the problem was caused by what they described as a computer glitch. They said the problem, which had gone on since 2011 and was discovered earlier this year, was fixed in April.
In his ruling Friday, Higginbotham said no evidence was presented that the jury pool from which Germany's grand jury was chosen in 2016 excluded anyone, including young people. The judge said there were no backup records to prove any exclusion that year.
A Baton Rouge man who told family members and authorities he strangled his wife in their Castle Hill Drive home on June 6 was indicted Wednesd…
But Higginbotham went even further, saying that assuming there was evidence of exclusion of any age, racial or gender group, there was no evidence of any intentional act on the part of anyone involved in the jury pool process.
Assistant District Attorney Dylan Alge had made that argument Friday to the judge, saying intentional discrimination in the grand jury process must be shown to establish a violation of the law.
"That didn't happen here," Alge argued to the judge.
Higginbotham also agreed with Alge that age is not a "distinctive group," and the exclusion of persons of a particular age cannot support an equal protection claim under the law.
Lagattuta contends Germany's state and federal constitutional rights were violated.
Germany, 45, faces a mandatory term of life in prison if found guilty as charged in the death of 41-year-old Nichole Jones on June 6, 2016. His next court date is Jan. 15.
Germany told family members and authorities that he strangled his wife in their Castle Hill Drive home. He told sheriff's deputies he and Jones had argued the day before, and the argument continued the next day when he strangled her in bed.
A man who admitted to family members he strangled his wife was arrested Monday evening after her body was found inside their residence on Cast…
Earlier this year, state District Judge Richard Anderson denied a request for a new trial for a Honduran man convicted of second-degree murder two months before the jury pool problem was revealed. David Bueso claims the pool from which his trial jury was chosen was devoid of young people.
Anderson's ruling is being appealed.
Higginbotham's ruling was the first to deal with a challenge to the selection of grand jurors. That challenge was the first one filed in East Baton Rouge since the state Supreme Court's April ruling in the Caddo case.