Victor lawyers seek removal of DA’s Office

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 23, 2009



EDGARD – The legal team representing a Reserve man accused of killing his 8-year-old stepson are asking for the St. John Parish District Attorney’s Office to be removed as prosecutors for the case.

Public defense attorneys for Errol Victor Sr., 44, argued during an evidentiary hearing Wednesday that an assistant district attorney, who had previously represented their client in various business matters, created a conflict of interest for the prosecution. The defense is asking District Court Judge Madeline Jasmine to recuse the DA’s office from the case.

Before coming to a final decision, Jasmine recessed the hearing late Wednesday after Victor’s attorney, Edward R. Greenlee, called a last-minute witness who was not in court. The hearing will continue Monday afternoon.

Victor, who was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of M.L. Lloyd III, was indicted Sept. 22 by a parish grand jury on the lesser charge of second-degree murder. Victor remains free after posting a $350,000 bond.

Greenlee’s questioning centered on Assistant District Attorney Kerry Brown, a LaPlace lawyer who said he had known Victor since the two were children participating in playground ball. Greenlee said in addition to Brown’s previous legal representation of Victor, the assistant district attorney could also be called to testify as a character witness in the case.

Brown testified he had represented Victor in various business matters that date back as far as 2003. He said Victor would often engage in discussions regarding his discipline of his children. Brown said Victor had even showed him a hand-written discipline structure policy used to levy punishment.

“Errol ran a very tight ship with his children,” Brown said. “The sons that helped him in his real estate and construction office would stand at attention and ready for questioning.”

Brown testified he never discussed the death of Lloyd with the family. Victor’s wife and eldest son also have been charged in connection with the death.

Brown, who said he had not reviewed any information in the district attorney’s case against the family, told the court he had invited Victor’s wife, Tonya Victor, into his home when she came to him over the summer. Brown said during that meeting Tonya Victor told him her husband did not hit their children, and he did not lay a hand on Lloyd before he died.

Brown said after that meeting he proceeded to block all communication with the Victors.

District Attorney Tom Daley argued the conversation did not present a conflict of interest and said the defense is “speculating” Brown might be called as a witness in the case.

“If we are talking about who might be called to testify the universe is wide open for anyone,” Daley said.

Daley argued state criminal code requires the district attorney himself to step down from a case if he has a known connection with a defendant, but that restriction does not apply to members of his staff.

Jasmine pointed out other cases where assistant district attorneys have served as consultants and the DA’s office was not forced to recuse itself. This observation prompted Greenlee to call his last minute witness.

Greenlee said St. John Parish Chief Public Defender Richard B. Stricks could provide information to the court that would counter some of Brown’s testimony.

Stricks was out of the town and not present in court at the time of the hearing.

Greenlee said after the hearing he understands criminal code does not obligate Daley to recuse his office from the case.

He did say, however, if it were a civil matter a law firm in this situation would be forced to withdraw.

“Too many people inside the office know too much about the case,” Greenlee said. “I just think the ethical thing to do is for them to step down.”