The man convicted of second-degree murder for the death of a Bourbon Street dancer found dead along Interstate 10 is asking for a new trial, arguing that jurors should have been told that a key trial witness was wanted on two separate felonies in Texas when she testified.
An attorney for Adam Littleton, who faces a life sentence after he was convicted in July of killing Jasilas Wright, told Judge Lee Faulkner of 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna on Friday that the omission was significant enough to warrant throwing out the verdict.
Prosecutors said they turned over rap sheets on their witnesses. They acknowledged an error in the paperwork but denied having knowingly excluded anything from the trial.
The witness herself told the judge Friday that she had been unaware she was wanted in Texas while she was testifying in the Littleton case.
Faulkner will rule on the motion next week.
During the trial, prosecutors said Littleton was acting as Wright's pimp and that in the early morning hours of June 10, 2015, he was trying to force her to go from a Bourbon Street strip club where she danced to Houston to work as a prostitute.
At some point, Wright got out of the car on Interstate 10 in Metairie, where she was struck by at least one passing vehicle and killed.
Stephanie Walker, the girlfriend of Littleton’s brother, testified during the trial that she heard Littleton tell his brother later that morning in Texas that he had forced Wright into the car and that he saw her get hit after she got out.
The testimony was crucial because finding Littleton criminally liable for Wright’s death depended on whether he was taking her to Texas against her will.
On Friday, attorney Paul Barker, who did not represent Littleton at the trial, said prosecutors should have notified the defense that Walker had two outstanding warrants for her arrest.
Littleton’s trial attorney, Nandi Campbell, took the stand and testified that in her 10 years of legal practice, witnesses with outstanding felony warrants are arrested upon arriving at court and often testify in prison garb. “And I definitely would have questioned her about the active warrants,” she said.
Barker said the defense and the jury deserved to know that such a key witness had credibility problems because of the alleged “crimes of dishonesty and deceit.”
“It goes to the heart of the state’s case,” he said.
Walker, now in a Texas prison, testified by video feed that she had no idea that warrants had been issued for her arrest in February and March. She was accused of stealing more than $1,000 from the Papa Murphy’s pizza restaurant where she worked.
Walker testified that she was not promised anything in return for her testimony. “I just went and testified and told the truth about what I knew,” she said.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish, Campbell acknowledged that prosecutors had turned over updated rap sheets on witnesses three times during the run-up to the trial.
“There was no suppression of evidence,” Rish said.
Rish said the case number for one of the two warrants for Walker's arrest was in fact among the entries in a document that was handed over, but it had the wrong date next to it and a typo that obscured what it referred to.
Rish acknowledged overlooking its significance, likely due to the errors, but said it was turned over nonetheless.
Barker asked what the defense possibly could have done with a case number that didn’t even identify which jurisdiction it was in. In any case, he said, there was another warrant that wasn’t included.
Barker also noted that Walker was arrested on the six-month-old warrants just three days after she returned home to Texas after the trial. Prosecutors, however, denied that they had done anything to put off her arrest for the sake of their case.
As the hearing drew to a close, Faulkner asked when the defense found out about the warrants and whether the information came from prosecutors. Barker said Campbell made the discovery three weeks after the verdict from an independent source.