A Walker man won't be retried next month in the 2015 vigilante-style killing of his girlfriend's convicted molester because Monday marked the first time his lawyers have been able to meet with him in person since the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020.

At the request of one of those attorneys, state District Judge Fred Crifasi converted Jace Crehan's July 19 trial date to a status conference and said he would set a new trial date at that conference. The judge said he would like the case retried this year.

Crehan, 27, was granted a new trial last year after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed split-jury verdicts. He had been convicted of second-degree murder by a non-unanimous East Baton Rouge Parish jury in 2017 and later sentenced to life in prison. The conviction and sentence were overturned because of the high court's ruling.

Crehan has been held at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. For many months during the pandemic, Angola inmates were not being transported away from the prison for court appearances, and defense lawyers were not allowed face-to-face meetings at the prison.

Further complicating the Crehan case is the fact that defense lawyer Carson Marcantel, who asked for the trial continuance, is planning to run for an open Baton Rouge City Court seat. Qualifying is July 14-16, and the election is Oct. 9.

Marcantel may have to withdraw from the case, depending on what occurs during the qualifying period and with the election.

Brittany Monk was 17 and seven months' pregnant with Crehan's child when she and Crehan broke into Robert Noce Jr.'s Zachary trailer the night of July 4, 2015.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

Noce, 47, was stabbed and strangled to death. His body was stuffed inside a 55-gallon barrel that Monk said Noce used to make wine.

Crehan told detectives the knife he used to stab Noce was retrieved from Noce’s kitchen by Monk, at Crehan’s direction.

Monk testified against Crehan after pleading guilty to manslaughter. She was later sentenced to 35 years in prison, five years shy of the maximum penalty allowed for that crime. She is trying to have her sentence reduced.

Monk testified at Crehan's trial that she sprayed Noce in the face with a man’s body spray while Crehan wrestled with him. She denied stabbing Noce but admitted punching him 10 to 15 times while Crehan held him down.

Crehan tried to plead guilty to manslaughter before his trial, but prosecutors turned him down.

Two weeks before his death, Noce had been put on probation after pleading "no contest" to molesting Monk as a child. Noce was a former boyfriend of Monk's mother and raised Monk for about 10 years after her mother abandoned her. He denied abusing Monk.


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