Police will not reopen case after judge finds murder suspect 'not guilty'

Police will not reopen case after judge finds murder suspect 'not guilty'

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Police say they will not reopen a murder investigation after the accused suspect was released from jail following a not guilty verdict.

"I'm very happy my client is home for the holidays," said defense attorney Ronald Haley, Jr. "I'm glad we were able to get justice for our client."

Lawyers for Tajh Harris, 23, waived the right to a trial by jury and instead opted for a bench trial heard by Judge Trudy White.

"One of the witnesses did not appear and we had extremely different conflicting statements from the witness," said attorney Dedrick Moore. "The state was put in a bad position. They were put in a very bad position because it was a weak case. They knew it was a weak case to bring forward. This is not a criticism of the DA. They're forced to move forward because you have a grieving family and they have to do their job."

Harris was accused of the shooting death of 24-year-old Javontia Davis. It happened in the 2600 block of Plank Road, but Davis was found in the 2600 block of Wenonah Street. Investigators identified Harris as a suspect and issued a warrant for his arrest. Harris turned himself in to police. He was booked for second-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon.

"There were multiple gunshots in front of the home where someone had to be firing a gun in front of that site," said Haley. "There were at least four individuals out there and no one could say who was shooting. There were so many conflicts that the state did not have a possibility of proving this case without a reasonable doubt."

District Attorney Hillar Moore disputes the claim and felt the case was strong enough to secure a conviction. He explained that Harris did not deny being involved with the shooting. Rather, he claimed self-defense.

"We believe that we made out our case beyond a reasonable doubt and resolved any inconsistencies regarding witness statements," he said. "It was clear that the 45 was the gun that caused the death. We don't get to pick or choose judge or jury. He picked the judge. We cannot appeal the judge's decision, like he would be able to do, because that would be double jeopardy."

It took 146 days to return an indictment from a grand jury.

"We were hopeful that given the presentation of evidence, the grand jury would return no true bill," explained Haley.

On Friday, December 16, after several months of deliberation, Judge White found Harris not guilty and he was released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison after spending a little over a year behind bars.

A representative for the Baton Rouge Police Department says investigators will not reopen the case following the not guilty verdict.

"Investigators believe they arrested the right person," said Lt. Jonathan Dunnam, a representative with the Baton Rouge Police Department.

If anyone has any further information on the case, call Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-STOP (7867) or the Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869.

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