Opening arguments in the Derrick Stafford trial are set for 9 a.m. in Marksville. The former deputy marshal faces murder and attempted murder charges after he and another officer allegedly shot at a vehicle killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring his father. Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino says the main issue is whether the shooting was justified.
"It all turns on whether they reasonably believed they had to use this deadly force," said Ciolino.
The shooting happened in November of 2015. Stafford and deputy marshal Norris Greenhouse Junior chased a vehicle driven by Christopher Few. The chase stopped at the end of a dead-end street and Few and his six-year-old autistic child were shot. The boy was fatally struck. It took five days for 12 jurors and two alternates to be selected and Ciolino says it will be an emotional trial.
"The shooting victim is a young child, an innocent child, clearly a mistake was made, the question is whether that mistake was reasonable under all of the circumstances," said Ciolino.
The defense is expected to argue there was another shooter involved, possibly with testimony from experts and video simulation. Legal analyst Bryan Jeansonne says it’s hard to predict how the jury will react, because every juror is different. He says how it’s presented will make a difference.
"A lot of times you'll get an expert on the stand and people's eyes will just kind of glaze over it, because they get too much into the scientific data and people will lose interest," said Jeansonne.
Greenhouse Junior's faces a June 12 trial on the same charges.