Friday, 16 May 2014 13:23

DA Cannizzaro Strikes a Blow for Justice in Coulter/Landry Case

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crimeYesterday was a good day for justice in the City of New Orleans. In a statement released to the press, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro announced he would not pursue criminal charges against Marigny homeowner Merritt Landry, who shot 14-year old Marshall Coulter in the head in his courtyard last summer.

 

The incident took place at 2 a.m. on the morning of July 25. At the time of the shooting, Coulter was unarmed. Initially, he opened Landry’s window shutters and eventually scaled his six foot fence. Landry was awakened by the noise and went outside to investigate. Upon confronting Coulter, he told him to stop, but the young man reached for his waistband, forcing Landry to shoot him. Undoubtedly, Landry was protecting his family, because his pregnant wife and young daughter were inside the house.

Instead of charging Coulter with trespassing and violating curfew, police booked Landry on attempted second degree murder. Since that incident Landry has been living in legal limbo, awaiting the decision by the District Attorney.

A grand jury refused to charge Landry, but also had refused to dismiss the charges against him.Some analysts believed that Cannizzaro would wait until after his re-election campaign in November before rendering a decision. Coulter is a young black teenager and was compared to Trayvon Martin, while Landry, who is white, was compared to Hispanic George Zimmerman.

Fortunately, the District Attorney used the law as his guidepost and not political considerations. He made a courageous decision in a city that has a 63% African American majority.

Now the focus should be placed on the Coulter family, which is completely dysfunctional. Marshall Coulter was described as a “professional thief” while his brother was recently arrested for armed robbery. Although Coulter was shot in the head, it did not change his criminal conduct.

He was recently arrested after illegally entering the home of a Marigny resident, shocking almost everyone who believed he was severely injured and still recovering from the gunshot wound. Coulter was supposedly bed ridden and unable to walk or talk without assistance. In reality, he recovered enough to threaten another resident and invade his property.

It was also discovered that in 2012 Coulter was arrested for illegally entering a Royal street home and taking a gun away from the resident. He left with the weapon, resuming his life of crime and, incredibly, was never arrested by police.

While Coulter was continuing to commit crime, Landry was removed from his job as an inspector for the City of New Orleans and given a four month unpaid leave of absence. He was also forced to vacate his home, which had become the focal point of demonstrations and news conferences. Landry also faced mounting legal bills as he tried to stay out of prison.

After yesterday’s announcement, Landry should receive his back wages from the City of New Orleans and be allowed to resume his life as a private citizen. Coulter should be not released once again on the streets of New Orleans, but, instead, should be housed at a juvenile detention center receiving treatment and much needed punishment.

Homeowners should not have to worry about prosecution if they are defending their property from an invader. Our criminal justice system should focus on apprehending and incarcerating violent criminals and protecting the public from such a menace.

District Attorney Cannizzaro made the courageous choice to end the case against Landry so resources could be directed against real threats to the community.

An upstanding home owner protecting his property and his family is not a threat to any law abiding citizen, instead, he is a credit to his community.

Jeff Crouere

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]

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