Shooting suspect Joekel appears in Edgard court

Published 7:55 am Saturday, October 6, 2012



EDGARD – Kyle David Joekel, one of seven people arrested in the August killing of two St. John the Baptist Parish sheriff’s deputies and wounding of two others, left court Wednesday still without a permanent defense lawyer.

Joekel’s original public defender, William Boggs of New Orleans, withdrew from the case. Two attorneys from the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office took over in a temporary capacity.

David Price, lead counsel for the non-profit attorney group, said other capital defense attorneys could be prepared to enroll in few weeks. There are several candidates waiting to finish other capital cases in the state.

“We are just here on a temporary basis to ensure that Mr. Joekel’s rights are protected,” Price said. “The permanent attorney won’t necessarily come from this office. It depends on the schedule of the lawyers qualified to take on the case.”

Boggs told 40th Judicial District Court Judge J. Sterling Snowdy that his experience in the capital practice was limited, saying he was early in his career. He told the judge he was not prepared to take on a case of this magnitude.

Boggs also addressed concerns that a potential jury pool in St. John Parish was already tainted by extensive media reports on the case. He also asked whether the court-enforced gag order could be further extended. Snowdy said those concerns would be taken into account as the trial progresses.

Joekel is one of the suspected gunmen who fired on St. John deputies on the morning of Aug. 16. Joekel and Brian Smith have each been charged with two counts of first-degree murder of a police officer in the deaths of Deputy Brandon Nielsen and Deputy Jeremy Triche. Joekel and Smith have also been charged with three additional counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer.

Others arrested in connection with the shooting were Smith’s brother, Derrick Smith, and father, Terry Smith, Chanel Skains, Brittney Keith and Teniecha Bright.

Joekel is due back in court in Edgard on Nov. 19. At that point he should know who his permanent attorney will be. Trial dates for the other suspects have not been set.