A nonprofit law clinic that works to free the wrongly convicted is looking into the case of a Lafayette man serving life at Angola.
Convicted killer Jackie Lambert is 54 years old. For nearly half his life, since 1986, he has called the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola home.
A nonprofit law clinic that works to free the wrongly convicted is looking into the case of a Lafayette man serving life at Angola. By Walter Pierce
[Update: Due to Hurricane Isaac, IPNO requested and was granted a continuation in the case. No hearing date has been set.]
Convicted killer Jackie Lambert is 54 years old. For nearly half his life, since 1986, he has called the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola home. He was convicted by a Lafayette jury in the brutal May 1984 murder of 79-year-old Georgiana Young. The elderly Young was found with 51 stabs wounds and a broken neck in her house on the 600 block of South Washington Street near downtown. The house — long ago razed, the lot now given over to tall grass and weeds — was ransacked. Jewelry and other belongings were missing.
Lambert and another suspect, Wilton Lindon, were arrested a few weeks after the crime. Both were in possession of items stolen from Young’s house. Lindon, according to police records, confessed to participating in the burglary and stabbing, but insisted Lambert was the mastermind.
Each was convicted in separate trials — Lindon of first-degree murder; Lambert of second-degree. Lindon, who was convicted two months before Lambert, testified against his co-defendant at Lambert’s trial. Police investigators also testified that Lambert claimed he merely stood behind the house while Lindon entered, murdered Young and exited with her possessions, a claim Lambert disputed when he took the stand in his own defense. Lambert testified that he wasn’t even there.
Because Louisiana law prescribes life without parole for a second-degree murder conviction, Lambert will grow old and die at Angola, likely insisting until his last breath, as he has since his arrest, that he is innocent.
|There was very little coverage of Georgiana Young’s murder in the local daily aside from a crime scene photo the day after her body was discovered and a short story on Jackie Lambert’s conviction two years later.|
But a ray of hope has pierced the endless monotony of prison life for Jackie Lambert, although he may not even know it. On Aug. 27 District Judge Jules Edwards will decide whether the Innocence Project of New Orleans, a nonprofit law office that since its inception a decade ago has helped exonerate more than 20 convicts serving life sentences in prisons in Louisiana and Mississippi, should have access to records related to Lambert’s arrest and conviction.
In a state with the highest incarceration rate in the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world, IPNO will never want for work. Lambert could become its next project. But the group is mum on its intentions with the case, and it’s unclear whether this inquiry into Lambert’s case is to help IPNO decide whether to take his case or if the group is going full bore to spring Lambert from prison.
Kristen Winstrom, an IPNO staff attorney who filed the writ in Lafayette, would only say via email after a brief telephone conversation, “[public records] requests are a routine part of our investigation of cases.”
Yet it’s practically a certainty the nonprofit group has reason to believe Lambert’s case may have merit; the phalanx of staff attorneys, investigators, paralegals and volunteers comprising IPNO invests hundreds of hours in individual cases. This isn’t a random fishing expedition.
IPNO has seen virtually everything related to the case, specifically detective notes and logs. But the Lafayette Police Department redacted — blotted out with a magic marker, if you will — parts of some of the notes. And that’s what the Aug. 27 hearing is all about: IPNO filed what’s called a writ of mandamus against the PD, a fancy name for a lawsuit to compel the police department to turn over the records without the redactions.
IPNO’s suit against the police department has its genesis in a request in the spring of last year to the PD for the records. It’s unclear why the group made the request; Winstrom is unwilling to elaborate. After some back and forth via email and telephone with police officers and city-parish attorney Mike Hebert, an IPNO investigator traveled to Lafayette in May 2011 to look over the case, but IPNO was dissatisfied with what it saw based on the redactions.
In court documents, Hebert cites state law as providing exemptions to the Louisiana Public Records Act, allowing for sensitive information to be redacted.
“There were two reasons,” Hebert says. “One was the exemption for confidential informants; the other was the exemption for investigative techniques, both of which were explained to me by the police department as being directly applicable to the redactions.”
The former exemption is understandable, assuming confidential informants are still alive and revealing their identity via the court record might jeopardize their safety. But Hebert and the police department argue the latter exemption is valid, too, even 28 years later.
“You can envision any number of situations in which a particular investigative technique might be revealed by showing the documents that show the results of that investigative technique, and that might impair future investigations,” Hebert explains. In other words, revealing how the police conduct investigations could aid suspects in future investigations. Know thy enemy.
“It’s not necessarily the age of the case that would drive us to whether those exemptions would be invoked or not,” Hebert adds.
Because Lambert’s case is now back in court, tangentially anyway, officials at Angola denied our request to speak to him. His appeal of the 1986 conviction was denied by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in 1987, and the Louisiana Supreme Court declined to hear his case.
At this point IPNO appears to be Jackie Lambert’s only chance of ever seeing Angola from the outside.
Mike Harson's coffers show the advantage of incumbency.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will vote on an ordinance for final adoption Tuesday that, if approved, would give the city the green light to take over a stretch of Verot School Road from the state Department of Transportation and Development.
The Louisiana Association of Educators filed a lawsuit challenging the $60 million in spending through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
He's been out of office for nearly a decade, but former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is back on the campaign trail, urging voters to support his one-time colleague, Democrat Mary Landrieu.
The unresolved fate of the ashes left behind after Ebola waste was destroyed in Texas highlights the problem U.S. hospitals and communities could face in disposing of their own waste.
While much of the talk was about whether New Orleans could win a big game — or any game, for that matter — on the road, the conversation in the Saints' locker room was about something completely different.
State health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.
Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama's deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.
Compared to the rest of the country, Lafayette has it pretty good when it comes to the cost and speed of our Internet.
Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.