Following an evidentiary hearing on a motion by Ceaser’s lawyer, Hebert ruled there was not enough probable cause to arrest Ceaser, who is free of the charge unless or until re-arrested.
The District Attorney’s Office has not yet received the investigative file from the Eunice PD. When that happens, the prosecutors will have the option of taking the matter to a grand jury, noted Assistant DA Alisa Gothreaux.
Detective Ronnie Whaley was the only person testifying at the hearing. He was the lead officer on a task force formed in October 2011 to re-examine the 2006 case.
Ceasar was arrested in late November on the basis of an affidavit prepared by Whaley on the basis of information gathered through the new investigation. Whaley had not been part of the original investigation.
On the stand the most damaging witness information cited by Whaley was received more than two weeks after the arrest.
According to Whaley, in mid-December 2011 Eric Gallow, Ceasar’s sister’s boyfriend, told police that Ceasar recounted the Courville murder to him.
Gallow’s statement came about after he told narcotics officers who he was talking to about another case that he had information regarding the Courville case, Whaley said.
Whaley testified Gallow told him that Ceasar, Warren Gautreaux and Holly Fogleman went to the Courville home in December 2005 to rob the elderly couple.
Ceasar, according to Gallow, got cold feet and remained outside while the other two went into the house.
“Ceasar said all he could hear was the old man and lady screaming and the girl came out holding pills and had blood on her shirt,” Whaley quoted Gallow as saying Ceasar told him.
Gautreaux, 51, was arrested at the same time as Ceasar and also charged with first-degree murder. Fogleman, Whaley said, is in jail in Lafayette Parish. She has not been charged in the Courville case.
When Whaley said the arrest of Ceasar was predicated on Gallow’s interview, defense attorney Blaine Williams pointed out that the former happened weeks before the latter, asserting there was no evidence on which to base an arrest at the time Ceasar was apprehended.
The document on which Ceasar’s arrest warrant was obtained makes no mention of Gallow. It relies on a statement by Trent Slaughter that he saw Gautreaux and Ceasar together earlier in the fateful evening and one by Nichole Johnson, a juvenile at the time, that she overheard the accused talking about the crime.
Judge Hebert found that the affidavit lacked specificity, leaving him, he said, no choice but to dismiss the arrest.