Robert Coleman – black, age 33
Sentenced to death in Caddo Parish, Louisiana
By: A jury
Date of crime: 1/1/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Coleman and his girlfriend, Brandy Holmes, robbed Julian and Alice Brandon in their home. Rev. Julian Brandon died from gun shot and stab wounds. Alice Brandon was shot in the head and survived but never made a full recovery. Julian and Alice Brandon were found four days after the attack. The prosecution’s evidence included blood on Coleman’s boots and jewelry taken in the robbery that was found at the house where Coleman and Holmes were staying. The defense contested guilt by arguing someone else robbed and killed the Brandons with Holmes. When Alice Brandon was found four days after she was shot, she said two white men had robbed them. During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented evidence of Coleman’s criminal history including a conviction for armed robbery, stealing $11,000 from someone, and DNA evidence linking Coleman and Homes to the death of 25-year-old Terrance Blaze days after Brandon was killed. The prosecution compared the criminal life of Coleman with the retired minister he killed. The defense argued Coleman’s life had value to his family.
Prosecutor(s): Lea Hall, Ed Blewer, Hugo Holland
Defense lawyer(s): Darryl Gold, Richard Goorley
Sources: Times (Shreveport, LA) 2/8/2005 (2005 WLNR 1951043), 2/14/2005 (2005 WLNR 2333027), 2/17/2005 (2005 WLNR 2546905), 2/18/2005 (2005 WLNR 2546902), 2/19/2005 (2005 WLNR 2722885), 2/20/2005 (2005 WLNR 2722882).
Jessie Montejo – white, age 22
Sentenced to death in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
By: A jury
Date of crime: 9/5/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: The prosecution argued that Montejo helped a handyman, Jerry Moore, with a scheme to rob and kill Louis Ferrari, a 61-year-old businessman. Moore was described as an unreliable and volatile employee who hired Montejo to break into Ferrari’s home. Montejo shot Ferrari in the eye and Ferrari’s wife and son found his body in their kitchen. Montejo stole Ferrari’s car and left it on a dead-end road; Montejo’s DNA was found under Ferrari’s fingernails, and Montejo’s stepbrother was allegedly circling the subdivision in a van during the murder. Montejo later confessed to the killing. During trial, Montejo changed his story and argued that there was a mystery killer who came to the home at the same time Montejo arrived to interview for a job with Ferrari’s dry-cleaning business. He said he confessed because he was afraid of the repercussions of ratting out the real killer.
Prosecutor(s): Scott Gardner, Ronnie Gracinette
Defense lawyer(s): Jim Williams
Sources: New Orleans Times Picayune 3/6/05 (2005 WLNR 3501772), 3/7/05 (2005 WLNR 3501924), 3/9/05 (2005 WLNR 3715024), 3/10/05 (2005 WLNR 3715442), 3/11/05 (2005 WLNR 3865753).