BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A grand jury failed to indict a man accused of a murder that happened nearly five years ago.
Joshua Wilson, 21, was released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Friday morning after a grand jury pretermitted a second-degree murder charge against him. That means the grand jury did not find enough evidence to either move forward with the case, or to fully release him of the charges.
Wilson is accused of shooting 19-year-old Brandon Steward. The incident happened on September 23, 2010. But Wilson was not arrested until August 2, 2014.
Even though Louisiana law states that a District Attorney has 120 days from the day of a defendants arrest to file formal charges, Wilson remained in the parish prison for one year before his case was taken to a grand jury. In murder cases, formal charges cannot be made without an indictment from a grand jury.
"This case involved a juvenile that we were in discussions with for some time," explained District Attorney Hillar Moore. "The only evidence that we had against Wilson was the juvenile's statement. There was no physical evidence to support the statement."
It took four years before investigators had enough evidence to move the case forward.
"We later found some evidence that we found that had not been tested that was sent to the crime lab for analysis," Moore added. "Once we found out about the possible physical evidence we reviewed it and then presented the case to the grand jury."
The grand jury, however, failed to return an indictment. A pretermitted case can be brought back to be heard by a new grand jury if new evidence is presented.
"Since January 1, 2015, we have presented 20 cases involving 24 defendants to the grand jury for consideration of murder charges," Moore noted. "The grand jury indicted 17 defendants and pretermitted 7. The vast majority of these cases were homicides that occurred in 2014, some earlier than that."