The Investigators: Taxpayers may have to pay for Derrick Stafford's expert witnesses
AVOYELLES PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The 9News Investigators have found thousands in taxpayer dollars are being spent on an expert witness to help the case of a deputy marshal accused of shooting and killing a 6-year-old boy in Marksville.
Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. are two deputy marshals in Marksville accused of killing Jeremy Mardis, 6, during a pursuit. Jeremy's father, Chris Few, was also shot but he survived.
Investigators have said between the two deputies, 18 shots were fired with 14 coming from Stafford's gun and four from Greenhouse's.
RELATED STORIES: Deadly Marksville, LA officer-involved shooting
Stafford struggled to come up with the required $1 million to make bail. Even though he was able to get lawyers, those lawyers said Stafford did not have the money to afford two specific experts - one who would reconstruct the shooting scene and testify about it at trial and another expect on use of force.
According to Louisiana law, "If a defendant is indigent and unable to pay for witnesses desired by him in addition to those summoned at the expense of the parish, he shall make a sworn application to the court for the additional witnesses."
That basically means the court has to pay. It is why Stafford's lawyers filed a motion to approve and pay for an accident reconstruction expert named Victor Holloman from Sugarland, Texas. They asked for $1,868 to cover airfare from Houston, Texas to Alexandria.
Holloman's "initial retainer is $2,500, and no additional retainers/deposits during case work are anticipated or requested at this time," according to the motion filed by lawyers.
The $1,868 for the traveling expenses breaks down as:
- $750 for initial case work at $250 an hour
- $576 for airfare
- $250 for two hours of travel time
- $36 for parking at the Houston airport
- $133 for lodging at an Alexandria hotel
- $75 for food
- $48 to rent a car for a day and a half
Because the law says the court must provide the money, the judge signed off saying "It is ordered that payment of the expert fees/costs of Victor E. Holloman, in the initial amount of $4,368.00, be and they are hereby approved, and that such amount be paid by the Parish of Avoyelles to Victor E. Holloman."
That money is coming from Avoyelles Parish taxpayers and the police jury has to approve that check. In an emergency meeting Monday evening, the police jury denied it, saying it is too much money when they are already dealing with a financially-strapped budget.
Since the district attorney in Avoyelles Parish has recused himself from the case because Norris Greenhouse Jr.'s father is a prosecutor there, the police jury now has to retain private counsel to represent the parish.
The 9News Investigators did put in a phone call to Holloman who said the $1,868 would be for three roundtrip flights: one for inspection, another for consultation, and the third for the trial.
That trial is still slated to begin November 28 in Avoyelles Parish.
Holloman said he would reimburse any money he does not use. He added that it is hard to say if there will be additional payments needed. The judge denied money for the "use of force" expert, but that ruling is being appealed.
Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.