BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)—- Kenneth Gleason, a convicted murderer who took his own life while in prison, will be the subject of a Tuesday morning session at the Louisiana Supreme Court.
In April of 2021, Gleason was found guilty of first-degree murder after being linked to a series of shootings that left two Black men dead, Donald Smart and Bruce Cofield.
Five months later, the 27-year-old Baton Rouge native was found hanging in his cell at Angola State Penitentiary. On September 22, the Department of Corrections confirmed that Gleason’s death was a suicide.
Gleason had been facing a life sentence for Smart’s murder.
But in November, a state district judge threw out the conviction based on the fact that Gleason had committed suicide. The judge’s decision was based on a common-law doctrine requiring courts to follow this procedure when defendants pass away while their appeals are pending.
The Supreme Court will either overturn the doctrine or grant a suicide exception to prevent a convicted defendant from evading conviction.
Gleason pleaded not guilty to the murders of Cofield and Smart in 2017 and though he wasn’t charged with a hate crime, there was initially a suspicion that the shootings were racially motivated.
Officers who searched Gleason’s home, however, did confirm that they found a handwritten copy of an Adolf Hitler speech, according to the Associated Press.
The Tuesday, May 10, Supreme Court session began at 9:30 a.m.