A Day of Infamy October 29th 2010

Nugent Day 2: Attorneys Chip Away At Witnesses

Posted: Oct 22, 2010 10:22 PM CDT Updated Oct 22, 2010 10:26 PM CDT

Day two of the Scott Nugent trial was a time for building up and tearing down expert witnesses.

Nugent is on trial for manslaughter. He stands accused of the tasing death of Baron Collins Jr. – a.k.a Baron Pikes – in January 2008.

On Friday, the Winn Parish District Attorney’s Office brought in two of its expert witnesses; in order, to tie Collins death to the actual tasing. Collins, a large man weighing approximately 230-pounds, was tased between eight and nine times, mostly in the middle of his back, for not complying with Nugent’s orders.

And while the testimonies were long and did get heated, they were not the most interesting – or disturbing – part of the day. That belonged to a 10-minute recording, best described by defense attorney Jerry Glas as the “last minutes of Collins’ life.”

Filmed by Nugent, the sometimes shaky recording shows Collins, splayed out on the floor of the Winnfield Police Department. He frequently flopped from his back to his front. His head hitting the floor every time he rolled. Flecks of white foam filled the corners of his mouth. Collins appeared completely disoriented; only speaking once or twice.

“Someone help me please,” he moaned, a few minutes into the recording.

Two other voices were also heard. Nugent was one. Several times he could be heard urging Collins to get off the floor.

“Sit up, Bear. Sit up.”

The second unidentified voice referred to Collins as “dead weight.”

“He’s about as limp as he can be,” said the second voice. “… Wished we had a cart, we’d haul him to the hole.”

Before the recording ended, Collins told Nugent, “You’re going to suffer…You killed me.”

Nugent replied: “Are you threatening us… You ain’t dead. You’re talking. You’re alive.”

The defense originally tried to suppress this video, attempting to keep it from the eyes of the jury. Witnesses and the DA’s office have referred to it a couple of times during the trial.

One of those witnesses was Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist and Chief Medical Examiner for the New York State Police. Baden was the first expert witness called by Winn Parish DA Chris Nevils.

Baden reviewed the original autopsy of Collins, which ruled his death “undetermined.” In Baden’s report, he cited cause of death as cardiac arrest caused by eight to nine electrical shocks administered by a taser. Baden went on to label the death as a homicide.

On cross examination, Glas – referred to some in the audience as a “pit bull” – doggedly pursued Baden, trying to poke holes in his opinion and credibility. It was a charged exchange eventually ended by District Judge James Joyce, who warned all parties to tone down their tactics.

The DA’s second expert witness was Alexandria Cardiologist Harry Hawthorne. In his medical opinion, he linked Collins’ death to Sickle Cell Sudden Death. Hawthorne said everything added together – Collins’ flight from officers, his enlarged heart and being tased – could have contributed to a buildup of bodily distress that was “unstoppable.”

Hawthorne’s conclusion was similar to what was cited in the original autopsy done by Dr. Joel Carney, forensic pathologist in Lafayette. In that report, while Carney listed cause of death as “undetermined,” he also listed possible contributors as Collins’ Sickle Cell Trait and his enlarged heart.

Nugent’s trial resumes on Monday.

Jury can’t be found in Taser trial

Associated Press – October 15, 2010 5:24 PM E T

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – After five days of trying to seat a jury in the manslaughter trial of former Winnfield police officer Scott Nugent, the district attorney asked for a change of venue on Friday.

R. Chris Nevils said a change was needed because a disproportionate number of potential jurors who are black have been excused from the jury because they are aware of the case and have formed opinions about it.

Nugent faces charges of manslaughter and malfeasance in office in the death of 21-year-old Baron Pikes.

Pikes was shocked nine times with a 50,000-volt stun gun as he was arrested on a drug possession warrant in January 2008.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Jury can’t be found in Taser trial

Associated Press – October 15, 2010 5:24 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – After five days of trying to seat a jury in the manslaughter trial of former Winnfield police officer Scott Nugent, the district attorney asked for a change of venue on Friday.

R. Chris Nevils said a change was needed because a disproportionate number of potential jurors who are black have been excused from the jury because they are aware of the case and have formed opinions about it.

Nugent faces charges of manslaughter and malfeasance in office in the death of 21-year-old Baron Pikes.

Pikes was shocked nine times with a 50,000-volt stun gun as he was arrested on a drug possession warrant in January 2008.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Change of venue sought in Taser death trial in Winnfield

October 15, 2010

The Winn Parish district attorney has asked Judge John Joyce to change the location of the manslaughter trial of former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent because of difficulty selecting a jury.

Jury selection started Monday, Oct. 11, in the trial for Nugent, who is accused of using a Taser to shock to death Barron “Scooter” Pikes in 2008.

District Attorney R. Chris Nevils said that in three of the four 12-person panels, all potential black jurors had been excused for cause. In the fourth, half of the potential black jurors have been excused, according to a news release by the DA’s office.

Joyce said he would rule Monday, Oct. 18, on the change-of-venue request. He also will rule Monday on a motion by Nugent’s attorneys seeking to prevent a video from being shown to jurors once the trial gets started.

Nevils said potential jurors represented the racial makeup of Winnfield, but that most of them knew about the Pikes case and had formed opinions.

Nevils in a motion said “all of the African-American jurors have been tainted by pretrial publicity and discussions (of the Nugent case), which has resulted in an overwhelmingly disproportionate challenge for cause” to excuse potential jurors.

Nugent also is charged with malfeasance in office, which together with the manslaughter charge could bring a prison term of 45 years.

Jurors being picked for manslaughter trial of former Winnfield police officer

Town Talk staff • October 15, 2010

Jury selection will continue today in the manslaughter trial of former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent, who is accused of using a Taser stun gun in 2008 to electroshock a man to death.

Opening statements by prosecutors and defense attorneys would be on Monday if a full jury is seated today.

Nugent is accused of killing Barron “Scooter” Pikes, 21, in January 2008 by shocking him with a Taser nine times.

Nugent was charged with manslaughter and malfeasance in office in connection with Pikes’ death. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the manslaughter charge and five years for the malfeasance charge.

Jury selection in the trial started Monday in the 8th Judicial District Court in Winnfield.

http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20101015/NEWS01/10150334/1002/Jurors-being-picked-for-manslaughter-trial-of-former-Winnfield-police-officer