EBR evidence warehouse dates back to 1930s

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Recently, a 19th Judicial Court Judge ordered the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court to inventory the entire evidence locker. This was in the wake of a former employee stealing 16 pounds of cocaine that had been seized. The case is still pending but the inventory was done nonetheless.

Some of the cases with left over evidence went back to the 1930's. But two cases stood out and WAFB decided to delve into the "Evidence Warehouse."

The first case we looked at, along with long-time former prosecutor now law professor Chaney Joseph, was an October 1956 homicide. The evidence left over included four black and white crime scene photos, a spent shot-gun shell, and a confession from the defendant Herbert Levy. One of the photos depicted the inside of a bar with patrons still drinking next to the pool of blood.

"Well, I'm sure these gentlemen had nothing to do with the commission of the crime, and may have been witnesses and basically what this blood stain shows is where the body came to rest on the floor," explained Joseph.

Joseph also looked at the coroner's report. It was handwritten and taped to the bag containing the slug that killed the victim.

"Obviously it's a lot more sophisticated today than it was then, but the same basic principals are involved in that the physician looks at the poor man who was killed, does whatever is necessary to get into the body ,and figures out what damage was done and find the object that caused the damage," says Chaney.

Levy would spend the rest of his life in prison.

The second case, again with only 6 crime scene photos, was a murder in a Baton Rouge bar.

In 1953, Worden Cooper, then a deputy sheriff in East Baton Rouge, was charged with the manslaughter of R.C. Grady. The trial started just six weeks after the murder.

"It was an era in which there were less sophisticated investigative techniques," noted Joseph. "There were no rules with respect to criminal discovery, the defendant back then was entitled to a copy of his own statement and that was about it."

According to Joseph, although technology has created more sophisticated methods for the gathering and processing of evidence, what we learned is that the methods from the 50's are simpler, yet more effective.

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