A woman who was mortally wounded in a double murder this month in St. John the Baptist Parish told detectives she did not recognize her assailants, describing them as “guys in a big white truck” who pulled up next to her and her cousin and opened fire.
Those details and others emerged Wednesday in an incident report released by the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, providing the fullest account to date of the grisly LaPlace shooting.
At the same time, Sheriff Mike Tregre declined to release an arrest warrant outlining the reasons Derrence Greenup was booked in the killings two weeks ago.
District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut said last week that the warrant is a public record but that she doesn’t have a copy of it. Greenup’s defense attorney, David Belfield, also has been unable to obtain the document and said he still has “no clue” why Greenup was implicated in the killings.
Greenup, 28, of Reserve, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the Oct. 5 shooting deaths of cousins Sierra and Travis Gregoire. The shooting also wounded a 23-year-old man.
Belfield has claimed surveillance footage from Harrah’s New Orleans Casino shows Greenup was there at the time of the shooting. He accused Tregre last week of playing politics ahead of Saturday’s election by refusing to acknowledge his deputies arrested the wrong person.
Tregre, who faces three election rivals for his job, has repeatedly declined to comment on Greenup’s purported alibi. He denied a public records request from The New Orleans Advocate this week, saying he would not release the arrest warrant or any details about Greenup’s supposed role in the shooting out of concern for the safety of a witness. Authorities have said they are looking for two accomplices in the shooting.
The report released Wednesday makes no mention of Greenup but describes the harrowing crime scene deputies discovered about 1:50 a.m. outside a residence on State Street.
Arriving deputies dispersed a crowd of onlookers as they approached Travis Gregoire’s vehicle, which remained in drive but had come to a halt against the post of a mailbox. Travis Gregoire, 23, sat slouched in the passenger seat, suffering from gunshot wounds to the body.
A 48-year-old woman cried out that a “child” — 18-year-old Sierra Gregoire — had been shot and was “bleeding to death in front of her door,” the incident report says. Deputy Craig Shows ran over and found the young woman lying on her right side, drenched in blood.
She managed to give the deputy her name and spoke about the shooting briefly as she awaited medical treatment. The report says first responders decided the elder Gregoire would receive “the initial medical care” due to the severity of his injuries. “Deputy Shows reassured Sierra Gregoire there were additional medical personnel on their way to take care of her,” the report says.
The 23-year-old man who was wounded but survived already had been driven to the hospital by a neighbor who heard gunshots and came outside.
Travis Gregoire died the morning of the shooting at River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace, and Sierra Gregoire died that afternoon at University Medical Center in New Orleans.
The day after the shooting, investigators found the white pickup — the vehicle described by the younger Gregoire — on fire in Reserve. The police report refers to a separate shooting that happened the day before the double murder at a nearby housing project, an incident that also involved a white Ford F-250 pickup. The earlier shooting involved “an unknown black male and unknown person/persons” inside the truck, according to the report.
But the sheriff said Wednesday that “there is no other incident directly tied to the double murder at this time.”
Belfield accused Tregre of disregarding public records laws in refusing to release the warrant for Greenup’s arrest. In several area parishes, arrest warrants are filed into the court record after being signed by a judge.
That does not appear to be the case in St. John the Baptist Parish. The clerk of court there did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but one of her employees said arrest warrants are not maintained by the office in any criminal matters.
“I think it’s par for the course,” Belfield said. “They don’t do things right out there.”
Veronica Lam, program coordinator for Court Watch NOLA, said she believes arrest warrants fall within an exception in the public records law that allows authorities to keep them confidential “until a conviction or guilty plea has occurred.” She pointed to the same provision of the records law Tregre cited in denying the newspaper’s request.
Arrest warrants are routinely made public in other jurisdictions, including Orleans and East Baton Rouge parishes.
“A judge could order it sealed for a special reason, but normally, it is a public record,” said Rafael Goyeneche, a former prosecutor who is president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. “It should be available to the public because it becomes a court document, unless a judge has declared it to be excluded from the public record for some valid basis.”
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