After more than a year since his conviction of second-degree battery, Casey Batts, a former WBR Sheriff’s Deputy, was denied a retrial by 18th Judicial District Court Judge James Best on Thursday afternoon, February 7.
Batts was found guilty in March 2011 for his part in the severe beating of a WBR inmate, Stacey Lee Paul that left the inmate hospitalized with a broken jaw, dislocated eye, and $100,000 in medical bills.
Batts was sentenced to serve 30 days in prison and six months under house arrest – a sentence he had not yet begun serving by Thursday, the date of the motion for retrial.
Batts’ attorney, Samuel Ward, contested that his client was entitled to a retrial due to what he said he believed was testimony that had been withheld during the trial.
“Certain material was not brought to light,” Ward said during the motion for retrial.
Ward questioned WBRSO Col. Richie Johnson and Cpt. Ron LeJeune about their parts in the internal affairs investigation when looking into the Batts case. He said he was sure there was a report from the District Attorney’s office that was never entered into evidence for the original trial.
Martin Maley Sr., Assistant District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District, disagreed saying that all the evidence that was presented during the case was all the evidence there was available, and that nothing was withheld.
“There was a thorough investigation that went on in this case,” Maley said. “There is no evidence that (Ward) can point to specifically that he has.”
Maley then asked that Batts be sent to jail, as he had yet to serve any of the time he was sentenced to in the original conviction.
Judge Best agreed that Ward had not proven that there was, in fact, evidence of a report, adding that “suggesting there may have been information” was not enough to award a new trial to Batts.
“I am not convinced,” Best said before denying the motion for a retrial.
After discussions with Maley and Ward, Best said that Batts, who is a full-time student at Baton Rouge Community College, would be allowed to continue his schooling while under house arrest and would be allowed to serve his 30-day prison sentence in between semesters.
“Justice was long overdue,” said Maley of the denial of Batts’ request for retrial. “The judge imposed a very generous sentence.
“For him to do what he did erodes the confidence of the community. Maybe the victim can finally get some closure.”
A West Side Journal article from March 24, 2011, said that Batts was arrested after beating Paul in the shower area of the WBR Prison, one of the only areas in the prison that does not have surveillance cameras.
Batts told the jury, during his trial in 2011, that he brought Paul into the shower area because the inmate smelled bad. He admitted to hitting Paul, but only after Paul had taken the first swing, claiming it was an act of self-defense.
The jury, on March 16, found Batts guilty of second-degree battery, but acquitted him on a count of malfeasance in office.
Best said that Batts’ serving of the sentence inferred upon him had been “inadvertently delayed” due to what could be considered a miscommunication.
He said that once he handed down the sentence of seven months (30 days of which would be spent in prison, and six month under house arrest) he didn’t send Batts straight to jail because there was a motion for retrial. He said that there were also talks of plea agreements between both sides for a period of time, and Batts’ retrial date was not set until February 7, 2013.