NEW ORLEANS -- Back to the court room is the message from the Louisiana Supreme Court, which just threw out two New Orleans murder convictions.
The court says two Orleans Parish Criminal District Court judges didn't follow the law during jury selection.
"It's sad, you know, for grown men to be out here killing children," said a community member after the double murder of two teens back in 2002.
Almost 11 years ago, police arrested Billy Lewis for the murder of 11-year-old Daveion Jones and her uncle, 16-year-old Travis Webb. Detectives say Lewis used an AK-47 to kill Daveion who answered her grandmother's front door.
However, the NOPD says his intended target was the 16-year-old boy who'd had a verbal argument with Lewis' underage girlfriend. Eight years later a jury would find Lewis guilty. Shortly after the violent murders, community members welcomed his arrest.
"Knowing that they got him makes me feel really good. I can't stop praising God enough," said one community member.
However, now that murder case is headed back to the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court for a new trial.
"The Supreme Court in two related cases decided that the way that two different judges in Orleans Parish picked juries in murder cases violated the code of criminal procedure," said Loyola University Law professor Dane Ciolino.
The second murder case in question happened in the 3300 block of Clouet. Detectives say back in July 2008 Jeremy Patterson shot and killed a 28-year-old from the neighborhood in cold blood.
In June 2010, a jury would find Patterson guilty of murder. Neighbors living in the Desire community testified that they saw Patterson and a second gunman chase down Kerry Emery and shoot him multiple times.
In both murder cases, the Louisiana Supreme Court says Judge Robin Pittman and Judge Frank Marullo violated state law by not allowing defense attorneys to "backstrike" or remove a juror. The Court argues those decisions could have possibly changed the outcome of either case.
"Judges don't like that its takes longer to pick a jury when lawyers are allowed to backstrike," said Ciolino, who said Tuesday's Louisiana Supreme Court rulings now mean new murder trials for all parties involved including the victims' families.
"What we have in these two cases is a classic example of judges being penny-wise and pound-foolish. By trying to expedite jury selection in these cases at the end of the day they're going to end up trying both of these cases again," added Ciolino.
In response to the Louisiana Supreme Court's rulings, the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office issued this statement quote: "The District Attorney's Office is disappointed that it will have to retry two murder cases in which it previously obtained convictions. Mistakes such as these tax the resources of an office that is already stretched thin."