BATON ROUGE — The criminal trial of Murphy J. Painter, former commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, has been postponed until April 22.
Painter’s trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but U.S. District Judge James J. Brady granted a request for a delay.
The 59-year-old Gonzales resident is alleged to have accessed confidential personal information using the Louisiana Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.
Some of those allegations first surfaced in a February 2011 report by the Louisiana Office of Inspector General, which accused Painter of using his official position to illegally obtain information on judges, the governor’s staff, U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s wife and others over a five-year period.
Court records also show that the state settled a civil suit in July 2011 by paying $20,000 to a former ATC employee who claimed Painter stalked and harassed her. In court documents, Painter has denied stalking or harassing the woman.
Marine killer’s girlfriend gets 2 years in prison
NEW ORLEANS — The girlfriend of a Houston man accused of fatally stabbing a decorated Marine wearing his dress blues in the French Quarter has been sentenced to 26 months in prison.
Helaina Amrine, 23, pleaded guilty this summer to obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact, for helping destroy evidence of the crime.
On Monday, state District Judge Ben Willard offered her credit for the two years she has already served, so Amrine will be eligible for release in a matter of weeks.
Amrine agreed to testify against Melvin Clay and in exchange prosecutors capped the possible sentence she could serve at five years.
Clay was convicted earlier this month of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of 23-year-old Sgt. Ryan Lekosky, a veteran of Iraq. Clay was driving through the French Quarter, catcalling women around 3:30 a.m. on Halloween 2010. He passed by Lekosky and his wife walking near the corner of Iberville and Dauphine streets. Clay, according to testimony at his trial, cat-called Lekosky. She was offended and confronted him. He got out of his car and a fight began; Sgt. Lekosky intervened and Clay stabbed him seven times, once in the cheek, another in the back and again in the chest.
Student arrested for making threats
PONCHATOULA — Authorities are investigating two threats made at Louisiana schools.
A Belle Chasse High School student was arrested Monday after threatening to shoot up the school and kill a teacher.
Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Lonnie Greco said 18-year-old Leonard F. Jourdan III was booked with terrorizing.
Greco said Jourdan admitted to detectives that during a class, he allegedly threatened to shoot up the school Friday because he believes the world is coming to an end.
Police in Ponchatoula say threatening letters were received by two elementary school principals on Monday.
Police Chief Bry Layrisson said the letters contained vague threats not directed to anyone in particular.
Layrisson said the letters are “very similar in nature” and appear to be from the same person or people.
New state museum leader set to begin
BATON ROUGE — Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne has chosen a Baton Rouge native to lead the Louisiana State Museum system as assistant secretary in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
Mark Tullos will begin the job Jan. 21, overseeing 11 museum sites around the state, including the Cabildo in New Orleans and the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge.
Dardenne’s office announced the hiring Monday.
Tullos has worked as director of the Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette since 2005. Before that, he was the director of museums in Waco, Texas; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Alexandria, La.; Ocean Springs, Miss.; and Lufkin, Texas.
A spokeswoman for Dardenne says Tullos will be paid $115,000 a year — $107,000 of that from the state, with other supplements added by museum foundations.
Man charged in 5 killings to plead guilty
NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans man charged with having a role in five killings, including the fatal shooting of an off-duty police officer, has agreed to plead guilty in the case.
Steven Earl Hardrick is scheduled to plead guilty Thursday, according to a court document filed Tuesday. Robert Toale, one of his attorneys, said his client has a plea agreement with federal prosecutors but wouldn’t elaborate on specifics of the deal.
Hardrick and others are accused of breaking into the home of New Orleans Police Detective Thelonius Dukes in October 2007 and demanding money and cocaine before shooting him. Dukes died the next month.
A 17-count indictment from March also charges Hardrick with participating in the October 2007 carjacking and killings of Brett Jacobs, David Alford and Howard Pickens. He also is charged in the death of Dwayne Landry, killed earlier the same month.
A trial for Hardrick was scheduled to start Oct. 29, but U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance postponed it after new evidence surfaced. His attorneys complained that federal authorities waited until earlier that month to test bullets removed from two victims’ bodies.
Vance rescheduled the start of the trial for Jan. 8.
The Justice Department declined to seek the death penalty even though the charges made Hardrick eligible for it.
Hardrick originally was charged in 2010 in the deaths of Jacobs, Alford and Pickens. He was serving a prison sentence for an unrelated firearms conviction at the time of his 2010 indictment.
From The Associated Press.
Hardrick is the only person charged with the five deaths in federal court.