Two boys ages 15 and 16 will be tried as adults in the Aug. 11 killing of a man at a North Foster Drive car wash during what prosecutors called Tuesday a botched deal for marijuana. A 13-year-old co-defendant will remain in juvenile court.
East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Adam Haney found reasonable evidence to proceed with second-degree murder cases against all three juveniles in the shooting death of Spencer Hebert, 32. Because of their age and the alleged crime, the two older boys, 15-year-old Gregory Howard IV and 16-year-old Tayan Jackson, will be moved into the 19th Judicial District Court, where penalties can be more severe.
Haney set the 13-year-old's bail at $100,000.
In the hearing Tuesday, Haney found probable cause that each of the three boys committed the offense based on store surveillance video showing the three boys walking to the location of the shooting, then running away, as well as statements two of the boys made to police. The pair admitted they had a gun at the time of the shooting, according to police.
"Everybody knew he had a gun, everybody knew what was going to happen," Haney said Tuesday. Determining probable cause, as Haney did Tuesday, only allows the case to move forward. The District Attorney's office still has 30 days to file charges.
Prosecutors alleged that the boys approached Hebert to buy marijuana.
"This is a drug deal gone bad," said East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney Otha Curtis Nelson Jr.
Three boys — ages 13, 15 and 16 — accused of killing a man during a robbery two weeks ago will remain in custody at least until Sept. 11, when…
Baton Rouge Police homicide detective Logan Collins testified that two shell casings were found in a stall of the car wash and then a trail of blood led to where officials found Hebert's body. Hebert had been shot twice, once in his side and once in the back, Collins said. Investigators believe Hebert was shot the second time in the back while trying to run away.
Police found Hebert with a bag of suspected marijuana in his hand, Collins said. He said there was also a pipe left in the car wash stall where investigators recovered the shell casings.
Surveillance video showed the three boys walking to the stall of the car wash where the shooting occurred — though that specific area was out of the range of the surveillance footage. Then the video shows Hebert come go to the parking lot of the Atchafalaya Seafood and collapse, while the three boys run away.
Both Howard and Jackson told police Howard had a gun on him as they approached the car wash, but they each blamed the other for pulling the trigger, Collins said. However, Collins said police believe Howard fired the weapon.
After the shooting, Jackson told police he ran home. Howard said that he and the 13-year-old ran to the younger boy's home, where they changed clothes. Howard said he later sold the 9mm handgun back to a man he originally bought it from, Collins said. Police have not been able to recover the weapon, Collins said.
Nelson, the assistant district attorney, asked the judge to consider whether the evidence could support a first-degree murder charge.
Three juveniles — one just 13 years old — were arrested Thursday in the mid-afternoon killing of a 32-year-old man at a North Foster Drive car…
"In our state, if a person is killed during a drug transaction, ... that counts as first-degree homicide," Nelson said.
But the attorneys for the juveniles, who were appointed by the state, pointed out there is no video that shows the defendants committing the actual shooting, which they said left many questions. They also asked the judge to keep in mind the age of the offenders.
"We tend to forget that we're dealing with children," said Niles Haymer, the attorney representing Howard. "Science tells us these children, their minds aren’t mature enough. ... He looked younger than 15. He’s small, he’s scared, he doesn’t know what to do."
The three juveniles sat in the small courtroom in beige or green short-sleeved jumpsuits, labeled 'Juvenile Services.' Their three families crowded into the benches behind them. Except to greet their family members and give their names and ages to the judge, the boys did not speak at the hearing.
Because both Howard and Jackson are 15 or older and facing counts of second-degree murder, their case is automatically transferred out of juvenile court, according to state law. If they are found guilty of second-degree murder, they could both be sentenced to life in prison, however they would have the opportunity of parole. The third, just shy of his 14th birthday, will face imprisonment until he's 21 in the homicide, if convicted. None have been formally charged in the case.
Spencer Hebert spent most of his days at the Foster Car Wash just around the corner from his house, helping people wash their cars and earning…
After the hearing, family members of Hebert said they were glad to see the judge's ruling, though some still hoped the case would be upgraded to first-degree murder. If the juveniles were to be convicted of first-degree murder, prosecutors could seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole. However, other family members just wanted the maximum sentence for the boys.
"You shot him in the side, he could have lived," Latasha Hebert said, noting how her brother was also shot in the back. "That sounds like someone wanted him to die."
Michael Chambers said he doesn't want to ever see the boys back on the street after the death of Hebert, his son.
"He was my baby, I loved him," Chambers said. "That takes a whole lot out of me."