Marksville trial begins: 'hail of gunfire' killed Jeremy Mardis

Day 1 of trial for Derrick Stafford (Source: WAFB - Leah Ellsworth)
Day 1 of trial for Derrick Stafford (Source: WAFB - Leah Ellsworth)
Derrick Stafford walking out of court on March 14, 2017 (Source: WAFB)
Derrick Stafford walking out of court on March 14, 2017 (Source: WAFB)

MARKSVILLE, LA (WAFB) - At 9 a.m. Monday morning, trial began in the case of Deputy Marshal Derrick Stafford, charged with the second degree murder of Jeremy Mardis, 6, and attempted second degree murder of his father, Christopher Few on November 3, 2015.

After jury instructions, prosecutors from the Louisiana Attorney General's Office, Matthew Derbes and John Sinquefield, presented their opening statements for 20 minutes. They told the jury, per their account, what happened that November night when Mardis died and added the jurors would hear from witnesses and see evidence showing Stafford has a past with excessive force.

Defense attorneys, Jonathan Goins and Chris Lacour, then presented their opening statements for 52 minutes, telling the jurors that parents are responsible for their children no matter what and that "innocent people do not run from the police."

Goins added that Few committed 15 different traffic violations when he did not stop and that there was a lack of due diligence in the case with how quickly Stafford and his co-defendant, Norris Greenhouse Jr., were arrested.

"Political pressure, rather than the law, is what drove this case. A rush to judgement is what drove this case," said Goins.

The prosecution went through 12 witnesses in just the first day, ending the day with Lt. Kenneth Parnell, whose body camera caught much of the aftermath of the shooting. Derbes first presented three witnesses, trying to show that Stafford used excessive force when making their arrests, in two cases tasing the people after they were already handcuffed.

The defense argued that in two cases, they were convicted of resisting an officer and disturbing the peace.

The 911 tapes from November 3 were played for the jury. A bartender from TJ's, the bar that Few was at before the shooting, testified that Few did have two beers and a shot, but that he was not intoxicated. The defense said in their opening statements that "Mr. Few had alcohol, meth, and xanax in his system that night."

Marksville Police Chief Elster Smith took the stand, saying body cameras were introduced to the Marksville Police Department in February of 2014. Even though the body camera video has been highly publicized and a majority of the jurors have already seen it previously, it was shown for the first time to the jury.

  • Lt. Parnell took the stand, breaking down frame by frame what happened in the video.
  • Prosecution: At any point, do you fire your weapon?
  • Lt. Parnell: Absolutely not.
  • Prosecution: Are you sure about that?
  • Lt. Parnell: 100 percent.
  • Prosecution: Why didn't you fire your weapon?
  • Lt. Parnell: I wasn't in fear of my life.

But when the defense cross-examined Lt. Parnell, Lacour asked if he drew his weapon when he exited his car and responded to the shooting because of the welfare of his colleagues. Lt. Parnell said "yes" and added also for his own welfare.

Trial resumes Tuesday morning.

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