Judge grants continuance request in 'wrong neighborhood' beating trial, new trial date set

'Wrong neighborhood' trial on hold until July

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The trial of a man accused of beating a family at a gas station he allegedly told was in the "wrong neighborhood" was scheduled to get started Monday after a nearly three-month delay, but was delayed again after the judge granted a continuance.

Donald Dickerson, 42, of Baton Rouge, is charged with second-degree battery in the May 12, 2013 attack. He is facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted as a habitual offender.

Prosecutors were testing an overhead projector and the defense saw some evidence it claimed it hadn't seen previously. The defense then asked for a continuance, which was granted by Judge Louis Daniel.

Both sides will meet later in the day to go over the evidence in question. The trial has been rescheduled for July 13.

Jury selection was initially supposed to begin on January 5, but Daniel's office said proceedings were postponed because one of the witnesses came down the flu.

Dickerson is accused of beating a man, his wife and their daughter at the Chevron station on Plank Road at Scenic Highway. Police arrested him on a charge of second-degree battery and ticketed two others. They are all accused of punching the family.

The Baton Rouge Police Department reported one of the victims suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose and several lacerations to the face. According to the probable cause report, he and his wife were knocked unconscious.

There were some people who wanted Dickerson to face hate crime charges, but District Attorney Hillar Moore decided to try him using Louisiana's habitual offender section of the law. If convicted of a hate crime, Dickerson would only face the possibility of an extra five years added to his sentence.

"The media in this town, the papers and the TV, want to make it like he attacked everybody. The FBI investigated and they showed there was no race involved," said defense attorney Bernard Blair.

"I don't want to try this in the press because it may come back to impact how we select a jury next time, but I just think he's somebody that we think he needed to be looked at closely and we are proceeding accordingly," said prosecutor Barry Fontenot.

Dickerson has previously been convicted of armed robbery, purse snatching and a sex crime. Those convictions, in combination with the latest offense, make Dickerson eligible to be tried as a habitual offender.

Moore said the victims are happy with his decision.

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