Accused NOPD cop killer Travis Boys makes first court appearance under heavy security on Tuesday _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Travis Boys is transported to Orleans Parish Prison Tuesday, June 30, 2015 after a court appearance.

Update: Jury selection for Travis Boys halted Wednesday after he smears feces on his head in front of jurors. Click here to read more details.

Original story:

With jury selection set to begin Wednesday, Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman ruled on requests from lawyers on both sides of the trial of Travis Boys, the man accused of killing New Orleans Police Department Officer Daryle Holloway two years ago.

Police said Boys, 35, was being transported to jail on June 20, 2015 to be booked for firing a gun at his wife when he shot Holloway dead inside the officer’s SUV. Boys then escaped and remained at large for 24 hours before his capture in the Lower 9th Ward, authorities said.

Boys was charged with first-degree murder, a count that could carry the death sentence. However, prosecutors announced in June that they are seeking a life sentence instead.

Boys has entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. His defense attorneys face a steep challenge to prove his innocence in a shooting caught on body-worn camera video — but they are hoping to sway a jury with evidence of his mental disabilities.

In court on Wednesday, Boys’s face appeared to be swollen for unexplained reasons. His lead defense attorney, Billy Sothern, requested medical treatment for what he called an “infection” in Boys’ face.

“His head is hurting. I think the court can see that his eye is terribly swollen, like a golf ball,” Sothern said.

Herman asked the Sheriff’s Office to give Boys medical treatment while potential jurors were being summoned for the jury selection process.

In a little more than a half an hour, Herman also dispensed with a series of pre-trial motions in the case. The most important requests from both sides concerned what kind of evidence Boys can present about his purported low IQ and mental health.

Herman said doctors could not present evidence of Boys’s low IQ test scores unless they also declare that he did not know the difference between right and wrong when he shot Holloway.

“There is a certain bar that needs to be met, prior to making testimony of evidence of Mr. Boys’s IQ to be relevant,” she said.

However, Herman sided with the defense in a heated dispute over medical records from Boys’s uncle and mother. He obtained those records – which could show that schizophrenia runs in his family – by asking for copies from his relatives’ hospitals.

Assistant District Attorney Inga Petrovich argued that the defense team should have obtained the records through a subpoena instead of a simple request. She also questioned why the request for the medical records belonging to Boys’s mother came before her death.

“It seems to us that those records were obtained illegally and unlawfully, and simply outside the purview of what the law allows,” Petrovich said.

Matthew Vogel, a staff attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders, said Boys was next-of-kin for both of his relatives. The request for his mother’s medical records came after her death and a date suggesting otherwise was a simple typo, he said.

Vogel added that the state had “no credibility” when it came to the issuance of subpoenas – a reference to the ongoing debate over so-called “fake subpoenas.”

Herman said she would allow the medical records from both Boys’s mother and uncle.

“I find whatever typographical errors to be harmless. They are admitted,” Herman said.

The judge also rejected a defense motion seeking to bar officers from attending the trial in uniform. Boys’s lawyers argued that the specter of uniformed cops staring at the jury might influence their decision. They also pointed out that many officers may be wearing black honor bands over their badges due to the recent killing of Officer Marcus McNeil.

“The jury is going to be instructed on prejudices and not being inflamed by any kind of emotions,” Herman said. “It’s a great big courtroom. There’s over 100 seats in here.”

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge. | (504) 636-7432