The Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles has vacated the four-year prison sentence of Brian Verret, who was convicted last year on four counts of negligent homicide in connection with a fatal high-speed wreck on Ambassador Caffery Parkway. However, the appeals panel upheld Verret’s convictions. The ruling sends Verret back to state district court in Lafayette for an as-yet unscheduled resentencing.
Verret’s story made above-the-fold headlines in newspapers and lead stories on TV newscasts off and on for the better part of 18 months. Witnesses of the gruesome two-car collision on Sept. 30, 2006 told police Verret, in a Ford Mustang, was racing another car when he lost control and careened into a Honda Accord. The four people in the Honda — James Thibodeaux, Danielle Thibodeaux, Jeremy Meche and Sunshine Jasek — were killed. Police later backed away from the “street racing” allegations.
Verret was sentenced to five years at hard labor on each negligent homicide conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences be served concurrently and ordered one year of the sentence be suspended. However, the Third Circuit ruled that the trial court failed to be specific in its ruling on suspension of sentence and terms of probation, essentially a technicality. The case came under review after Verret appealed his conviction, arguing insufficient evidence. The appeals court also upheld a ruling ordering Verret to pay restitution to the children of the four victims. The Third Circuit ruling will not lead to Verret’s immediate release, but he will likely be back in a Lafayette courtroom in the coming weeks for resentencing.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.