NEW ORLEANS -- A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial for a former New Orleans police officer who was convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting a man whose body turned up after Hurricane Katrina. The court also reversed one of the convictions of a former officer who incinerated Glover's body in an abandoned vehicle.
A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out David Warren's convictions Monday, saying a judge should have separated his trial from other officers charged in the death of 31-year-old Glover. (See the ruling)
Warren, who shot Glover days after Katrina in an Algiers strip mall, was previously sentenced to 26 years in prison.
In his appeal, Warren’s attorneys argued “that the spillover effect from the evidence presented in connection with his four co-defendants would deny him a fair trial.”
Warren worried the jury found him guilty because of his fellow officers’ alleged attempts to cover up the death or obstruct the investigation.
Julian Murray, Warren's attorney, said previously that "it simply wasn't fair for him to be tried together with all of this allegations of racial epithets, beating up on people, burning bodies, burning cars and all of that. He had nothing to do with that."
The appellate court panel sided with Warren's attorneys, noting that Warren suffered prejudice in having his trial held alongside the other officers.
Murray is scheduled to hold a press conference this afternoon regarding the new trial.
The U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case alongside former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said today that the agency is "reviewing the ruling."
Today's appellate court decision also reversed one of the convictions of former officer Gregory McRae, who burned Glover's body in a car. The panel upheld McRae's other civil rights convictions but ordered him to be resentenced.
"We hold that the evidence is insufficient to support McRae’s conviction for denying Glover’s descendants and survivors the right of access to courts, and we therefore reverse and vacate that conviction," the panel found.
McRae had been sentenced to 17 years in prison. He remains convicted of one count of obstruction of justice and one count of using fire to commit a felony. The appeals court ruled that he should be resentenced on the remaining two convictions.
McRae, Warren and a third former officer Travis McCabe, were convicted in December 2010.
U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk, who presided over the trial, later ruled that McCabe should get a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. McCabe is accused of covering up the matter.
The appellate court ruling issued today affirms Africk's decision to grant McCabe a new trial.
Two former NOPD lieutenants -- Robert Italiano and Dwayne Scheuermann -- were charged in the case. Both men were acquitted.