RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office has not made a decision on how it will proceed with its drug charges trial for Joseph Elie, III, 41, now that one of the state's key witnesses, Eddie Andrus, has been fired from the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office.
A mistrial was declared in that case on June 26 for Elie, who had been charged with two counts of drug possession with the intent to distribute, after Andrus, who was the first witness called by the state, mentioned a weapons charge that Elie was also facing. The problem with that testimony was that there had already been an agreement reached before the trial began that the drug charges would be separated from the weapons charge because they were separate cases and couldn't be brought up in court together.
Judge Mary Doggett declared a mistrial after Elie's attorney, Chris LaCour called for one. The case was being prosecuted by Brian Mosley.
On Monday, Andrus was fired by Sheriff William Earl Hilton for his alleged involvement with payroll fraud that lead to the termination and arrest by Louisiana State Police of three other deputies within the department. But, in an interview with News Channel 5, Hilton said he stopped short of arresting Andrus or another deputy, Brian Frost, who he said did the same thing. Instead, he emphasized it was State Police's investigation initially.
"We didn’t arrest anybody, but I fired both of them because they were part of the investigation and I’m not privy to go into the State Police investigation because I really don’t know what all they did. But, the allegations against the three that were arrested are the same allegations as, I understand it, against the two that I terminated today," Hilton said.
We reached out to District Attorney Phillip Terrell about how the state will now proceed with the trial for Elie involving Andrus given this development. He gave us this statement:
"We have not received a file from the Louisiana State Police regarding the arrest of the deputies. Therefore, we cannot speak to that case. The DA's Office, as in all cases, will evaluate the case after all pertinent facts have been fully investigated and will decide at the appropriate time whether to move forward."
Elie has a lengthy criminal record dating back to his conviction for manslaughter in 2001 for the 1994 beating and stabbing death of Rita Rabalais, 82.
In March 2018, Elie was indicted once again on a drug possession charge and another firearm possession charge. He was set to head to trial November of last year, but he didn't show up, and a bench warrant was issued. According to court records, he wasn't captured again until his alleged involvement in a January 2019 arson case, which has yet to be prosecuted.
Elie remains in the Rapides Parish jail.
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