THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - The Lafourche Parish District Attorney will take charge of prosecuting a man accused of beheading his disabled 7-year-old son and leaving the head by the side of a road so his mother could see it, the DA said Wednesday, calling it a high-stakes case.
Camille A. "Cam" Morvant told The Daily Comet (http://bit.ly/qrKYmD) that he thinks a fair jury can be found in Lafourche Parish, in spite of intense coverage about Jori Lirette's death, Jeremiah Wright's arrest and his relationship with Jori's mother, Jesslyn Lirette.
"I have no reason to believe it's not going to be tried here," Morvant said. "That's always an issue in high-profile cases, but it's only been two days since the admission of the crime."
It's also too early, he said, to decide whether his office will pursue the death penalty against Wright, who is booked on a first-degree murder charge.
Morvant has not answered calls since Monday from The Associated Press. On Wednesday, his office sent a news release saying he would not comment about the case.
A grand jury will decide whether to charge Wright, and what charge should be brought.
Jori Lirette was killed after his mother told the 30-year-old Wright, her longtime boyfriend, that she was kicking him out of their Thibodaux home, according to a sworn police statement. Wright, who police say confessed to the killing, is being held on $5 million bond in the boy's death.
That statement also said Wright told investigators he was tired of caring for Jori. The boy's body, lower legs and one forearm were cut off and found in a trash can with his torso.
The statement said Wright told them he left Jori's head by the side of the road so that his mother, 27-year-old Jesslyn Lirette, would see it when she came home and "feel stupid." By the time she arrived, police were already there and had removed the head.
Morvant also tried the parish's last death-penalty case against a woman who stabbed her 9-year-old daughter more than 60 times and her autistic 7-year-old son about 50 times in 2007.
Amy Hebert was convicted in 2009 of first-degree murder but jurors split over whether she should die. That meant she received the only other possible penalty, life in prison. The judge made the two sentences consecutive.
Hebert lost an appeal in February. The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal rejected a claim that defense testimony showed she was insane at the time of the killings. It noted that a prosecution doctor testified that she could tell right from wrong, and that letters to her ex-husband and mother-in-law showed a motive - anger that the children were to be taken from her.
The panel also rejected a claim that the trial judge should have allowed a forensic expert's testimony that there was evidence of insanity in the knife patterns on the children's bodies and that of the family dog.
Information from: Daily Comet, http://www.dailycomet.com