Prosecutors trying to decide whether to retry a former Louisiana State Penitentiary guard on a charge of beating an Angola inmate cannot interview jurors on why they failed to reach a verdict on that charge while finding him guilty of covering up the 2014 beating, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Attorneys for former Angola Maj. Daniel Davis had objected to any interviewing of the jurors by federal prosecutors, arguing in court documents that such a practice would undermine the sanctity of the jury process.
Davis, 41, of Loranger, was found guilty last month of conspiracy to obstruct justice, falsifying reports in a federal probe, tampering with a witness and perjury.
An ex-Louisiana State Penitentiary guard was convicted Friday in the cover-up of the 2014 brutal assault of a shackled and handcuffed Angola inmate.
The Baton Rouge federal court jury also acquitted Davis on a count that accused him and another guard of physically assaulting the inmate at a prison tier and failing to intervene to protect him. However, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on another count that alleged Davis and two other guards beat the inmate on a prison breezeway and failed to step in to protect him.
U.S. District Judge John deGravelles declared a mistrial on that count.
In a recent court filing, prosecutors asked the judge for permission to interview the jurors to assist them in deciding whether to retry Davis on the unresolved count.
"The United States wishes to base that decision on the best information possible. And who better to opine on the quality of the evidence than the jurors who carefully considered it throughout the trial?" Justice Department attorney Chris Perras wrote.
In their written objection to the government's request, Davis' lawyers argued that allowing prosecutors to question the jury "invites the jurors to believe they did something wrong in having failed to reach a decision on that one count."
A then-Louisiana State Penitentiary guard took part in the brutal beating of a "thoroughly restrained" Angola inmate and masterminded a cover-…
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Andre Belanger and Ian Hipwell, two of Davis' attorneys, wrote.
Belanger, Hipwell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Menner met Friday with deGravelles in his chambers. The judge denied the government's motion during that conference, Belanger said outside the judge's courtroom.
The judge set a March 26 trial date on the unresolved count against Davis. Prosecutors have not said whether they will retry him on that count.
The inmate involved in the case suffered fractured ribs, a punctured lung, dislocated shoulder and other injuries in the incident. He was handcuffed and shackled at the time.
Three former Angola guards have pleaded guilty in the case: John Sanders, 32, and James Savoy, 39, both of Marksville, and Scotty Kennedy, 49, of Beebe, Arkansas. They have not been sentenced. Kennedy and Sanders testified against Davis.
A third former Louisiana State Penitentiary corrections officer has pleaded guilty to federal charges in the 2014 beating of a handcuffed and …