State Supreme Court to decide which charge stands in Lake Charles murder case

LAKE CHARLES, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Supreme Court is now debating a murder case in which the suspect was indicted on two different charges.

In 2013, Lake Charles resident, Woodrow Karey, allegedly shot his pastor, Ronald Harris, in front of his congregation. Investigations would later reveal Karey believed Harris raped his wife.

A grand jury quickly indicted Karey for manslaughter. Then seven months later, the Calcasieu District Attorney's Office took the case back to another grand jury, claiming they had new evidence. The second grand jury indicted Karey on second degree murder. However, Karey's defense team says the second indictment violates a deal they had with the DA's office.

According to defense attorney Todd Clemons, they had a "gentleman's agreement" early on with prosecutors. In exchange for the defense handing over what they say was key information supporting a manslaughter charge, the DA would stick with whatever charges the original grand jury decided. "The deal was we would live with the results of the first grand jury and they reneged after they got pressure from the family," said Clemons.

"Murder cases do not exist in a vacuum. You continue to investigate, sometimes unfortunately, right up until trial," said assistant district attorney Carla Sigler.

Now the murder case is stuck as both sides debate if a deal was really in place and which charge should stand. After bouncing around in the lower courts, it's now up to the Louisiana Supreme Court to sort out just how binding behind scene deals really are.

According to the Chief Justice, it will take at least six weeks before the justices issue their decision.

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