LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - A Livingston Parish jury has found a teen guilty of plotting to rob and killing a man back in 2017.
On Monday, Aug. 26, the jury found Blayson Fife guilty of second degree murder for the death of Rick McBride. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 3.
Assistant District Attorney Zachary Daniels handled the case. Daniels says Monday was a turning point for his team.
“Going beyond what one witness says or what they’re accusing someone of, having physical evidence and forensic evidence like the cell phone tower data that we were able put on helps us to say that there’s a piece of evidence that connects to the testimony and proves its accuracy," Daniels said.
As for the jury rendering a second degree murder conviction rather than first degree, Daniels says the second degree murder charge can be seen as a catch all in felony murder convictions.
“I think the evidence does warrant a conviction for first degree murder because I do think that Mr. Fife intended to kill Rick McBride, however the second degree response or verdict was not necessarily surprising. It still does carry that life sentence," he said.
Testimony Monday revealed a DNA analysis from the State Police Crime Lab found Fife’s DNA was matched to a footprint found in the laundry room of the victim’s home.
Lots of details were revealed through witness testimony during proceedings on Thursday, Aug. 21 as well.
This was the first time jurors heard from Joe Baluch. He’s the man Livingston authorities say was with Fife the night of the killing. Baluch says Fife asked him if he wanted to “ride to hit a lick” at a home in Walker where no one would be home. Baluch claims when he and Fife entered the home, he grabbed a gun and later located a safe. But Baluch says when he realized the victim was there, they walked out to a truck, but Fife went back to look for more guns and money.
That’s when Baluch says he heard at least four gunshots. He says Fife came running back to the vehicle and said he had to “off him" and he was “going to get teardrops.”
Later in the evening, Baluch claims Fife asked him to take him back to the victim’s home to clean up blood because Fife thought he scraped his leg while going through the window in the laundry room. Baluch says he did not take Fife back.
A longtime friend of Fife, Alexis Shar, revealed she has known him since middle school. Shar says weeks before McBride was killed, she drove Fife to the victim’s home “to just look” and “he had to handle something.” Shar claimed to be unaware of the future plans.
Additional testimony from Kerstin Avery, who is charged with accessory after the fact to murder, revealed she took Fife to the victim’s home after the killing. She says Fife made more than one trip to her car, with around 20 guns in tow. Avery testifies she had never been to that house and did not know McBride was dead.
Avery says at some point, she, Fife and two others drove to Baton Rouge and sold some of the guns in a park. After that exchange in the park, Avery says they headed to California, but stopped along the way in Texas at the Galleria Mall. She says Fife had roughly $16,000 that belonged to the victim.
The state argued at some point, that group stopped in New Mexico, where Fife shot at a sign. Ray Tabizon from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office in New Mexico says he recovered a shell casing from the scene. Ballistics and firearms examiner, Michelle Caze- Olinde, compared that casing to those found at the victim’s home. Caze-Olinde says due to its markings, it matched with the murder weapon.
Avery says they stayed for a week, but she doesn’t remember everything about the trip to California because she was “most likely under the influence.” On the way back to Louisiana, they were stopped in Mexico by border patrol when agents discovered Fife had a warrant out for his arrest.