A man awaiting trial for a 2015 shooting at an Algiers apartment complex now faces a new charge of threatening a witness to the crime inside the New Orleans jail, according to court records and a law enforcement source.
An Orleans Parish grand jury handed down a superseding indictment Thursday against Wellington Cornin, 27, who is accused in the May 2015 killing of Aaron Bannister, a 26-year-old father of two.
Investigators said Cornin threatened an eyewitness to the crime who happens to be an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy during a security sweep inside the jail on Nov. 15, according to the law enforcement source.
The grand jury also indicted a second man, 24-year-old Patrick Hundley, on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the killing. Further details on his alleged role were not immediately available.
Hundley was taken into custody Friday.
Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson set bail at $1.5 million for Cornin and $1 million for Hundley.
The new indictment was the latest development in a case that has seen several twists since Bannister was killed in the 3300 block of Garden Oaks Drive on the afternoon of May 23, 2015. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at a hospital.
Three months later, police announced they had developed Cornin as a suspect. Detectives said in a warrant that two witnesses told police they saw the killing. The witnesses identified one of the killers as “Lil’ Willie” or “Willie,” police said.
Both witnesses picked Cornin out of a six-person photographic lineup. He was jailed on a murder count in September 2015.
Cornin, who is being represented by the Orleans Public Defenders, was set to go to trial Wednesday. But a Nov. 21 filing made clear that prosecutors expected turbulence.
The District Attorney’s Office asked for material witness warrants for the arrest of two women it said were eyewitnesses to the killing. Prosecutors said the women appeared to be dodging subpoenas to appear in court.
Judge Byron C. Williams granted the request. However, after one of the women appeared in court Nov. 27, he ordered her released on her own recognizance.
The woman was an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy. A source said Cornin threatened her inside the jail on Nov. 15 in an apparent attempt to scare her away from testifying.
Prosecutors confirmed in a court filing that they were investigating additional charges against Cornin in connection with “events” at the jail on that day.
Cornin also faces new charges in connection with another dust-up at the jailhouse a week later. Sheriff’s Office investigators allege that he took part in a Nov. 21 group beating of a fellow inmate.
Cornin; Leo Dorsey, 26; Devin Lacrosse, 27; and Shawn Roussell, 23, kicked and punched the other inmate to the ground, according to an arrest report. The victim has been awaiting trial since 2013 on charges of simple burglary and marijuana possession, court records say.
A deputy had to call for backup before he could break up the assault, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The victim suffered a deep laceration over his left eye and a possible fractured jaw, deputies said.