RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Akeeley Blade, 19, the man found guilty in December 2017 of the first degree murder and second degree robbery of Michael Butler at a Motel 6 in 2016, was back in court on Wednesday on several motions related to his case. Blade still has not been sentenced.
Two other defendants in the case, Camryn Lasyone and Brooke Daniels, took plea deals. Another defendant, Travis Weston, is still awaiting trial.
Blade's attorney, Michael Brewer, had filed several motions for a new trial and post verdict judgement for acquittal in his case. But, they took some time to get to court. Blade's case is on its fourth judge and fourth prosecutor. It is now assigned to Judge Chris Hazel and Assistant District Attorney Johnny Giordano.
Brewer's motions focus on several things pertaining to his case and trial, but some of the biggest have to do with if the State of Louisiana properly reached its burden of proof, and if after Blade initially accepted a deal for manslaughter before turning it down as sentencing approached, if the state was required to properly amend the indictment back to first degree murder.
As Brewer explained to News Channel 5, just because the jury found him guilty, doesn't necessarily mean the verdict will stick.
"It insinuates that the jury found that, however it doesn't mean it's free from a judge reviewing that or the Court of Appeal reviewing that," he said. "Because, if you have a verdict that is contrary to the law and evidence, then the judge can reverse that based upon new trial motions and motions for acquittal if it is contrary to the law and evidence."
The state pushed back on Brewer's motions. When it came to the matter about the initial plea deal, Giordano had this to say: "He's (Blade) always aware of the primary charge. He entertained a plea...the plea fell through."
Judge Hazel decided to take the matters under advisement and make a decision later.
Another issue was brought up pertaining to a juror in the trial named Albert Boss. After the trial concluded, Brewer learned that Boss had worked with Blade's grandmother at one point. He also learned that the juror's daughter is friends with a family member of Blade's.
Attempts to subpoena Boss for the hearing were unsuccessful. As we learned, the court was having trouble tracking him down or finding a working phone number.
That matter has been reset for April 22.
Meanwhile, Judge Hazel did deny one of Brewer's motions that pertained to the change in Louisiana law and the unanimous jury verdict system. He ruled that the verdict was acceptable because Blade is not grandfathered in under the new changes to the law.