SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – In a surprise move, one of three men accused in the January 2019 death of Shreveport police officer Chatéri Payne on Monday morning pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in her death.
Lawrence Pierre, 24, was one of three men indicted in March 2019 on a charge of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in the officer’s fatal shooting. He was set to stand trial alongside 29-year-old Tre’veon Anderson and 41-year-old Glenn Frierson. But just before jury selection was set to get underway Monday morning in Caddo District Court, Pierre came forward with his plea.
Presiding Caddo District Judge John Mosley accepted the plea and immediately sentenced Pierre to life in prison without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Before he left the courtroom, Pierre was handed subpoenas to testify in Anderson and Frierson’s joint trial.
Following Pierre’s guilty plea and sentence, the court took a brief recess and then went back into session to entertain motions from the two remaining defendants.
First, Anderson, who is represented by Shreveport attorney John Bokenfohr, wanted his trial continued because he said he had sent a letter to the Caddo District Attorney’s office claiming a total of seven public defenders had been assigned to his case and he wanted to represent himself. In the letter, he also claimed he had not seen the prosecution’s discovery (evidence) and that he was negotiating with prosecutors.
Assistant District Attorney Ron Stamps said if Anderson chose to represent himself he can, but it would be at his “own peril.” Stamps also said there was never any negotiation between the DA’s office and Anderson, that the State had not initiated negotiations, nor asked any questions.
Mosley denied Anderson’s motions and ordered him back in court at 2 p.m., with Bokenfohr representing him.
Frierson, who is represented by Mary Harried and Casey Simpson from the Caddo Parish Public Defender’s Office, requested his trial be severed from Anderson’s, due to certain allegations by Anderson. However, Stamps said the allegations did not have a factual basis and the severance should be denied.
Harried also claimed she only saw 175 pages of discovery on April 1, but Stamps countered the discovery had been filed from the beginning or almost the beginning and there had been ample time to review it.
Judge Mosley denied these motions and the joint trial for Anderson and Frierson resumed with jury selection beginning at 2 p.m. Monday.
A panel of 17 prospective jurors were invited into the courtroom at 2:25 p.m., and Stamps began with a presentation of the law used in criminal trials, interspersing it with voir dire questioning of the panel as to their understanding of the law, as well as any previous association with the defendants, court staff, any one connected with the case, as well as any pre-existing knowledge of the case.
Stamps was followed by Bokenfohr, who questioned jurors more specifically on their opinions on similar cases. After Bokenfohr finished, Harried began her questioning by asking jurors how they felt about defense attorneys.
The questioning lasted until after 6 p.m., and prospective jurors will be back in the courtroom Tuesday morning to resume jury selection.
Officer Payne was fatally shot on Jan. 9, 2019, shooting death of Officer Payne as she prepared to leave for her shift as an SPD patrol officer.
All three suspects were arrested less than a week later. A Caddo Parish Grand Jury indicted the trio on March 20, 2019, charging each with one count of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the shooting death of the young officer and mother of a toddler.
In earlier proceedings that began in early 2020 and only concluded in December, one of the defendants – Anderson – filed motions asking for a change of venue for the trial and asking that each of the defendants be tried separately.
In February 2020, Caddo District Judge John Mosely, who is presiding over the cases, denied both motions.
Later, Anderson, in his own handwriting, submitted a writ to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to “review” both decisions; the Second Circuit denied the writ, so Mosely’s decision stood.
Due to COVID-19 closures and restrictions, along with attorney changes along the way, two earlier trial dates were set, the first on March 8, 2021, which was reset to July 26. But on July 21, 2021, that trial date was reset to April 4, 2022.
If convicted, the remaining defendants each face a mandatory life term in prison without benefit of probation, parole or reduction in sentence.