Lawyer for couple accused of murder claims DA has 'conflict of interest'

Lawyer for couple accused of murder claims DA has 'conflict of interest'
Robert Noce (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)
Robert Noce (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The defense for a couple accused of murder filed a motion to recuse the District Attorney's Office due to an alleged conflict of interest.

Jace Crehan and Brittany Monk are accused of murdering Robert Nose on July 4, 2015. The alleged motive for the murder involved a prior case against nose that was prosecuted by the District Attorney's office, thus creating the possible conflict of interest.

Nose pleaded "no contest" on June 22, 2015 to raping Brittany Monk when she was a child. The abuse occurred between 2001 and 2009. During the prosecution of that case, Monk, the victim, provided testimony.

The motion filed by attorney D. Carson Marcantel alleges that the testimony provided is considered confidential and therefore the District Attorney's office should recuse itself from the prosecution of the murder case.

"During the impaneled Grand Jury proceedings that led to the indictment of Monk and Crehan, Assistant District Attorney Leslie Ricard was called as a material witness before the Grand Jury," the motion notes. "It is unclear what ADA Ricard testified to during said proceedings."

Grand Jury testimony is considered confidential because it is not a trial, rather, it is a determination as to whether or not formal charges can be filed.

RELATED: Grand jury indicts couple accused of murdering convicted sex offender

"Defendant alleges that the only reason to put ADA Ricard on the stand would be to establish that there was a 'proper' prosecution of Robert Nose in order to justify a plea bargain that would allow an Aggravated Rapist to be probated, despite repeatedly raping his stepchild, who was at all times under the age of thirteen," states the motion.

District Attorney Hillar Moore responded to the motion saying that the motion is "without merit."

"There is no attorney/client relationship nor is there any grounds for recusal," he said. "This motion is simply an attempt to divert attention from the facts of this murder case and attempt to prevent our office from doing justice."

The motion implies that Crehan is included because Monk was pregnant with his child during the court proceedings.

"Additionally, ADA Ricard was privy to information given to her by Monk and Crehan under the umbrella of their status as victim and victim's family during the prosecution of Nose," notes the motion. "Crehan absolutely falls under the category of Monk's family and is, arguably, her only family."

Moore asserts that his office represents the State of Louisiana and not individuals.

"There is no attorney/client relationship as alleged by her lawyers," he said. "The jurisprudence interpreting the recusal articles is very clear.  This office shall not be recused unless the entire district attorney's staff is not able to be fair and impartial in the performance of its duties.

"The test is an objective one as to whether a reasonable person would believe that the district attorney could not be fair and impartial," he continued. "Even if the recusal would be proper as to one particular assistant district attorney, it does not require the recusal of the district attorney or his office.  Here there are no assistant district attorneys or myself who have any personal interest in this matter which would threaten the fair and impartial administration of justice.  Our office simply did its job in presenting this matter to the grand jury."

A motion hearing is scheduled for May 27 before Judge Anthony Marabella.

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