Bail for Bourbon St. suspect tops $4 million _lowres

P)hoto provided by the NOPD -- Trung T. Le.

A newly hired private attorney for Trung Le, accused by police of being the first person to open fire on Bourbon Street in a June 29 melee that killed a Hammond woman and injured nine others, said Wednesday that police arrested the wrong man and that Le has an alibi.

Martin Regan declined to describe that alibi after appearing Wednesday in Orleans Parish Magistrate Court, where he argued without success that he should be allowed to issue subpoenas to the bars and other establishments around the shooting scene for video evidence in the case.

“We believe he wasn’t there because of other evidence of an alibi nature,” Regan said outside the courtroom, although he declined to say why Le apparently fled to Mississippi after the shooting.

During the hearing, Le, 20, of Belle Chasse, sat in orange jail scrubs among several other inmates making their first court appearances.

“He wasn’t the shooter on Bourbon Street,” Regan said. “My client is not responsible for shooting and not responsible for anyone’s death.”

In court, Regan said he was worried that bar and shop owners, beholden to police, would destroy any video footage that might help to clear Le in the 2:45 a.m. shooting.

“We believe the evidence will show it certainly wasn’t him,” Regan said. “The video evidence will clear him,”

Le, the lone shooter to be arrested in the case, remains jailed without bail on one count of first-degree murder and nine counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Regan, a veteran defense attorney, said Le’s family had hired him, and he formally took over the case Wednesday morning.

Regan initially asked Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell to allow him to issue subpoenas himself. Then, after the judge denied his request, he asked for the court to keep the evidence to preserve it. Cantrell again refused.

Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue argued that it wasn’t the court’s place to order or keep evidence in the case. “Essentially they want to do a fishing expedition,” Rodrigue said.

Cantrell also refused to push up an Aug. 26 date for a preliminary hearing in the case. That date marks a deadline of sorts for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office to secure a grand jury indictment against Le, which would avert the need for a preliminary hearing.

Cannizzaro’s office has yet to accept the charges against Le, who was booked into Orleans Parish Prison on July 12 after he was extradited from Mississippi.

Authorities say he fled to Mississippi after firing the first shots in the 700 block of Bourbon Street in an incident that police say involved two shooters. Police have yet to identify or capture the second alleged shooter.

Le was arrested July 4 at a home near Gulfport, hours after being named a suspect in the case.

Regan, who said he would appeal Cantrell’s refusal to let him issue subpoenas to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, declined to say whether his client has given a statement to police.

The Sunday morning shooting claimed the life of Brittany Thomas, a 21-year-old Hammond woman who died in a hospital on July 9.

Regan said he would not disclose Le’s alibi to protect others. He said he feared videos that might clear Le would be lost because “a bar owner doesn’t want to have a problem with the Police Department. In my experience, if it doesn’t help police, it gets run over.”

According to court documents, a witness identified Le as one of the gunmen after watching surveillance video of the shooting at Bourbon and Orleans streets.

Police have not pointed to a motive in the shooting.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.