A judge has deferred ruling on a request from a man accused of killing a panhandler outside a Baton Rouge Trader Joe’s to release medical records of the victim that would reveal whether he had a record of aggression or violence while intoxicated.
In delaying the decision on Thursday, 19th Judicial District Court Judge Kelly Balfour called the motion “premature” and overly broad.
Balfour told the legal team of defendant Jace Boyd that he would let them file a more specific subpoena request for reconsideration.
The judge also denied a motion from the defense that sought to exclude surveillance footage from a nearby Circle K, saying he it should not be used because it deals with “what hypothetically may or may not be introduced at trial.”
Boyd, 24, is accused of killing 61-year-old Danny Buckley outside Trader Joe’s on Perkins Road on Aug. 22, 2020.
Previous reports say Buckley approached Boyd’s vehicle in the store’s parking lot to ask for money. The two argued through the car window before Buckley walked away and approached two women.
Boyd then allegedly got out of his car and yelled at Buckley to “leave people alone because he was scaring them.”
The warrant says Buckley turned back toward Boyd, who grabbed a gun, pointed it at Buckley and tried to shoot him while he was still out of arm’s reach. The weapon misfired.
Boyd lowered the gun and reloaded it before firing a shot into Buckley’s abdomen, the warrant continues.
After Baton Rouge police showed up, they say Boyd identified himself and later admitted to killing Buckley during an interview with detectives.
He was initially released without charges.
Boyd allegedly told officers he fired the gun to defend himself and others against Buckley, whom he said was “aggressively harassing customers.”
Boyd was freed on a $300,000 bond a week after his Aug. 27 arrest last year.
He was indicted in January this year after significant public outcry that pointed to potential racial inequities in the case.
Police did not arrest Boyd, who is White, until Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome publicly called for a thorough review of why there was no arrest despite Boyd allegedly admitting to killing Buckley, who is Black.
The Buckley family’s attorneys have argued Boyd’s actions constituted a hate crime, questioning whether police would have handled the case differently if a young Black man shot an older White man in the same situation.
Jessica Hawkins, a lawyer representing Buckley’s family, said Buckley presented no real threat.
“If wearing a hoodie or jogging in a neighborhood can be a death sentence for Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery, then why not interacting — in a non-aggressive manner — with two young White women in a Trader Joe’s parking lot?” she previously asked.
Boyd’s lawyer, J. Arthur Smith, maintains Boyd’s actions were warranted, calling the shooting a “self-defense situation.”
A police report later revealed in legal filings showed Buckley was banned from a nearby shopping center a day before his death for aggressively begging customers for money, although one of the two women Buckley approached moments before he was killed has since stated publicly that she was not worried for her safety when he asked her for money.
Toxicology reports showed his blood-alcohol level at the time of his death was 0.271% — more than three times the legal limit for driving.
“We believe that excessive intoxication of alcohol is often linked to aggressive behavior and we wanted to investigate that issue,” Smith said after Thursday’s hearing.
He told Judge Balfour the request would be resubmitted in accordance with the law.
Buckley family attorney Ryan Thompson declined to comment on the deferred ruling.
Boyd faces one count of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
He is due back in court Feb. 24.