One, who allegedly told an associate he got to keep a gun after killing someone with it, has taken a deal to testify against another, while the others’ cases are at various stages on the judicial treadmill.
Kevin Francis, 16; Ryan Williams, 15; Claude Morrison, Jr., 15; and Ove Wilson, 15, all of Crowley, were indicted last April.
Francis, Williams and Morrison, were accused of the April 1 murder of Linda Bonin on West 14th Street.
The trio was also charged with attempted first-degree murder and forcible rape.
The same grand jury indicted Francis, Williams and Wilson on first-degree murder and armed robbery charges in March 3 shooting death of Eric Beverly outside his North Avenue E residence.
Bail for Williams and Francis was set at $2 million, at $1 million for Morrison and no bail was fixed for Wilson.
The linkage between the crimes began on March 6, 2009, when police responded to a report of a shooting and man down on North Avenue E.
They found Beverly, 28, shot multiple times. He subsequently died of his six wounds.
Wilson gave officers a statement naming persons involved, including himself, Williams and Francis. Records indicate the victim has been arrested twice for alleged drug trafficking.
Why Beverly was shot is not indicted in any public record.
What happened in the juvenile justice system with the trio, if anything, between that incident and the second murder is also not public record.
At 12:30 a.m. on April 1, police allege Francis, Williams and Morrison, armed with pistols, broke through the rear door at 225 West 14th, a relatively quiet neighborhood of Crowley.
Austin Ryan Snow was watching television, Bonin was asleep in one bedroom, and a 5-year-old girl she was baby-sitting was asleep in another.
“Where is it at?” one of the invaders allegedly hollered as Snow ran toward Bonin’s bedroom.
The trio shut the door to the child’s room, then grabbed Snow and the sleeping Bonin and dragged them to the living room, tying them up with cords from a blow dryer and flat iron, positioning them in front of a couch, heads down, backs to them.
“Where is C’s money?” they demanded to know. “C” is a man who also lived at the house but was out of town.
Snow and Bonin said they didn’t know where any money was. Francis used a cell phone to call the man, blocked his own number and handed the phone to Snow, saying, “Here, talk.”
Snow asked the man to come home, saying that it was an emergency. The man confirmed that call in the subsequent investigation.
Records indicate that police found a cell phone in Francis’ possession which showed the blocked call on its outgoing call list.
Following the call, Snow said, the suspects poured eggs, cooking oil, salad dressing and other food items on them.
All the while, Bonin was hollering, he said. The suspects told her to shut up. They then used a sexual device they found in the house to sodomize her.
Snow told investigators one of the trio said, “Aw, just kill” Bonin when she continued to scream and they then shot both of them.
Evidence shows Bonin was shot in the back of the head. Snow in the arm.
He feigned death, and as soon as the trio left the house he checked on the little girl, who by then was awak and crying, then ran to a neighbor’s for help.
Meanwhile, he said, the trio was returning to the house (to retrieve the cell phone, later investigation revealed) and fired two more shots at Snow. Snow told police that he and Francis had fought a few days earlier, along with the man who also lived a the house and Ove Wilson, known as “O.J.”
Wilson was known to officers. They had taken his statement just days earlier in the Beverly killing.
When they confronted Wilson, police say, he told them, “Man, I told them (suspects) I wasn’t taking no rap for this. I told them to take their rap.”
According to police, Wilson had seen “C.J.” (Morrison) the morning after the killing and Morrison had a gun.
When Wilson asked Morrison if he was going to return the gun, according to Wilson, Morrison said, “Naw, man. My boy says if I kill someone, I can keep the gun.”
Wilson said he then asked Morrison if he had killed someone and he said, “Yeah, man. Somebody on 14th by the doughnut shop.” Wilson told police the culprits were Francis, Morrison and Williams.
As investigators confronted the juveniles and their parents; Williams, according to police, confessed.
He allegedly said that the out-of-town man owed them $50, then described the sexual attack on Bonin, saying, “then, that’s when they shot her.”
Williams told police “I think Kevin” shot the woman.
He said his weapon a .25 caliber and a .22 and Francis had a semi-automatic.
Williams’ attorney, Patricia Thomas, has moved to have the alleged confession suppressed.
She also alleges the state law under which Williams is being prosecuted as an adult is unconstitutional because the penalty is life without relief.
“Punishing a young teenager by putting him in Angola for the rest of his life is cruel, unusual and inhumane,” her motion asserts.
The state has severed the Williams charges, indicated it will proceed first with the first-degree murder indictment.
According to records, the state offered earlier this year to amend a count to attempted second-degree murder with a 20-year sentence cap and drop the other charges.
The defense countered with a request for a home invasion charge with a 10-year stipulation.
Bargaining stopped, according to the record.
Morrison did take a deal, pleading in February to an amended charge of attempted second-degree murder, with the state dismissing the murder and rape charges, and Morrison agreeing to cooperate in the case against Francis.
A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered with a stipulation that the cap on the sentence will be 20 years. Sentencing scheduled for April 26 was continued.
It was disclosed during the court’s review of Morrison’s plea that he has completed the 7th grade.
The trial of Francis first scheduled for July 12, then for Sept. 28 and continued again, has been caught up in a squabble in the 15th Judicial District over how cases are assigned to judges.
Wilson’s case has not yet reached a trial date.
Judge Glennon Evertt has the Morrison case, Judge Jules Edwards the Williams case and Judge Edward Rubin the Francis and Wilson cases.