The Investigators: Officer accused of killing 6-yr-old requests change of venue, other motions filed

The Investigators: Officer accused of killing 6-yr-old requests change of venue, other motions filed

MARKSVILLE, LA (WAFB) - Attorneys for one of the deputy city marshals charged in connection with the shooting death of a 6-year-old boy have filed several motions, including one for their client's trial to be relocated.

Derrick Stafford is charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder. His trial is slated to begin on Sept. 26, 2016 in Avoyelles Parish. He and Norris Greenhouse Jr. were Marksville deputy city marshals when Jeremy Mardis was shot and killed on Nov. 6, 2015 during a police pursuit. The boy's father, Christopher Few, was injured.

Stafford's lawyers filed the following motions Monday:

They are requesting all of the state's witnesses' criminal records and pending charges, saying the state attorney general's office has access to it and so should they to question the witnesses.

They are also requesting Stafford be allowed to be taken to the scene where the crime unfolded to discuss the facts of the case and law enforcement and state officials can't hear their conversation.

They're also asking the court to order the victim or anyone on record with the state to not record or observe the inspection.

Attorneys are requesting the state to disclose the state's main witness, Christopher Few's psychiatric and behavioral history. Attorneys want Few to "undergo psychiatric and other truth-determining examinations conducted by qualified experts."

They are requesting a change of venue, saying "prejudice exist in the mind of the public in Avoyelles Parish and defendant will not be able to receive a fair and impartial trial." Documents state attorneys want a change of venue "because the publicity in this case has been extensive and thorough. During the publicity of this case, government officials have made invidious and inflammatory statements against the defendant. Furthermore, there is a co-defendant in this matter facing the same offenses as Derrick Stafford, which will bring even more publicity to the case. The defendant was a police officer in Avoyelles Parish for the better part of his law enforcement career and has arrested a significant number of people in the parish and written thousands of tickets to individuals in the parish. Additionally, the Marksville Police Department has been accused by many in the community of violating the rights of residents and criminal suspects when performing their official duty. The department has 12 pending civil lawsuits, and at least eight of them name Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. as defendants.

"The pre-trial coverage of this case has been extensive and thorough," Jonathan Goins, Stafford's attorney, said. "We believe the jury pool in Avoyelles Parish is tainted to a degree whereby it would be impossible for Mr. Stafford to receive a fair and impartial trial. Since my client was arrested, government officials on both the state and local levels have made inflammatory and invidious statements against Mr. Stafford. There also exists a co-defendant in this matter facing the same exact charges as Mr. Stafford, which will bring even more publicity to the case."

A hearing on the motions is scheduled for June 29.

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Stafford was released from jail in March after posting a $1 million bond. He was being held at Rapides Parish Jail, but was taken back to the Avoyelles Parish Prison to bond out.

Officials have said between both deputy marshals, 18 rounds were fired and that no gun was found on Few or in his vehicle. They added when Few stepped out of his truck, he had his hands in the air.

Greenhouse faces the same charges as Stafford. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Greenhouse was also released after posting a $1 million bond.

Arrest reports for the two officers, detail the timeline of events on Nov. 3, 2015 around 9:15 p.m. in Marksville. It states Greenhouse started pursuing Few's 2000 Kia Sport. From there, two more Ward 2 city marshals joined in the pursuit. They were identified as Lt. Jason Brouillette and Stafford. Sgt. Kenneth Parnell, who was working for the Marksville Police Department at the time, heard the call over the radio and responded. It is also when he turned on his body camera that recorded the entire scene.

Their affidavits state when everyone reached the dead end of Martin Luther King Drive, Greenhouse and Stafford got out of their cars and "...discharged their duty weapons towards the 2000 Kia Sport vehicle. The vehicle, Mr. Few and his son were struck by multiple gunshots fired by the deputy city marshals."

"Mr. Few was critically wounded by two gunshot wounds. Mr. Few's six-year-old son received five gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene," it also stated.

The body camera captured 13 minutes from that night...just 26 seconds in, it shows "...Christopher Few's empty hands are raised and visible when gunfire becomes audible."

When Louisiana State Police started its investigation into the guns used, troopers found "...all spent casings recovered at the scene were fired from the duty weapons of deputy city marshals Norris Greenhouse and Derrick Stafford." Also, when Parnell was interviewed by investigators, "...he stated he didn't fire his weapon because he didn't fear for his life."

As for the other two officers that night, Brouillette and Parnell, both are back working for the Marksville Police Department. The attorney general's office said it does not anticipate any criminal charges against them and does not expect to file any more indictments in this case.

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