BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There were some tense moments in District Court Thursday at the trial of Casey Gathers and Michael Lewis. Both are accused of killing two LSU grad students in 2007.
The day started with one of the defense attorneys withdrawing a request to have the jury visit the crime scene. District Court Judge Chip Moore had arranged for the jury to visit the apartment complex where the victims were killed, but informed the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office it will not be necessary. No reason was announced in the courtroom explaining why the defense team withdrew its request for the visit.
Firearms and DNA experts with Louisiana State Police testified Thursday morning. The DNA experts revealed they did not find DNA belonging to either defendant at the crime scene.
The victims were both international students from India. Investigators reported they were shot in the head execution style inside the apartment. The LSU Police Department said it received a call of about a medical emergency. Police arrived on the scene and found the two men shot, one bound with a cable.
In 2008, Gathers and Lewis were arrested in Vermilion Parish. A third suspect, identified as Devon Parker, was arrested on an unrelated simple robbery charge by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office. He made a plea deal and agreed to testify during this trial.
In the arrest warrant, police said, "Devin Parker admitted that he was present with the co-defendants at the apartment complex on the LSU campus where the two murders occurred." According to the warrant, "Parker described what occurred inside...including the fact that Casey Gathers shot both of the victims."
The state's key witness, Devin Parker, took the stand Thursday. Parker is the third man allegedly involved in the case. Parker testified that he pleaded guilty to armed robbery in exchange for his testimony on Thursday.
He testified about drinking and doing drugs on the day of the murder. Parker says he met up with Michael Lewis and Casey Gathers that day and they rode around Baton Rouge before stopping at "some apartment complex."
He says they saw two men smoking on the second floor balcony and they walked up-stairs to "confront" them. Gathers told the jury that Gathers and Lewis both had hand guns and they forced the two men into Kiran Allam's apartment. He said he took Allam's wallet and cell phone just before Allam bolted for the front door. "That's when Casey shot him in the head," Parker testified.
Prosecutor Steve Danielson questioned Parkers motives for taking the plea deal and he said his conscious had bothered him.
Allam and Komma's bodies were found after what police called a home invasion of Allam's apartment on the edge of the Baton Rouge campus.
On cross examination defense attorney Beau Brock suggested Parker was trying to save himself. "You lied so many times you can't remember the truth," Brock asked. Parker testified he left after the first shooting and never saw anyone tied up. Candrasekhar was found tied up by internet wires and shot execution style.
During a short break Parker was seen with his head down. He did not look at his former friends Gathers and Lewis. The trial continues Friday.
Komma was a 31-year-old biology student from Kurnool and Allam was a 33-year-old chemistry student from Hyderabad.