NEW ORLEANS -- When the Orleans Parish District Attorney declined to prosecute Marigny resident Merritt Landry for shooting a teen who was on his property, the case against Landry became a public record.
That case file sheds new light on the evidence grand jurors possibly weighed last March when they couldn’t reach a decision whether to indict or clear Landry of the shooting.
Fourteen-year-old Marshall Coulter was shot in the head with a single gunshot when Landry said he believed Coulter was trying to break into his house last July just before 2 a.m.
"34s, code 2. 735 Mandeville. 735 Mandeville," an NOPD dispatcher is heard saying on the department’s radio system the night of the shooting, indicating a shooting at Landry’s Marigny home.
It was the first time New Orleans Police detectives heard about the Marigny shooting. Landry had called 911 to report it.
“Complainant shot male in his front yard,” the dispatcher says.
Officers respond saying they’re headed to 735 Mandeville Street. Landry’s 911 call is also included in the case file.
"I came outside and found this guy in my yard. I just shot him. He's -- he's down," Landry continued to the 911 operator later in the call, "Oh, my god. I can't believe this."
New Orleans EMS took Coulter to the Hosptal, while police questioned Landry both in his yard and at Police Headquarters. The lead homicide detectives interviewed the officers who were first on the scene. Those audio recordings are also a part of the file.
"He was laying inside the front gate, um, between the SUV and the fence," Officer Channing Branch is recorded as saying in the interview.
He later goes on to describe Landry’s behavior at the scene shortly after the shooting.
"The subject was, um, nervous. Very nervous," Branch said on the recording.
"Anyone in that situation would've been in a state of shock," said Kevin Boshea, attorney for Merritt Landry.
Video of the interview room shows crime scene techs swabbing Landry for gunshot residue, one of many pieces of evidence documented in the case file, including the gun used in the shooting.
“When you look at the expert report in this case, this is a close call,” said WWL-TV Legal Analyst Donald “Chick” Foret.
Included in the file is a crime scene reconstruction report done by an outside group hired by the Orleans Parish DA.
“We gave them complete access to my client's house. They did their own measurements. They did their own report, which conflicts with the homicide investigative report connected with this matter,” Boshea said.
The experts confirmed Coulter was inside Landry's locked gate standing next to the couple's SUV.
In the report prepared by homicide detectives, they wrote that at the time of the shooting, because of blood on the fence they believed Coulter was “…possibly standing on the fence attempting to hop over the gate and flee from Merritt Landry prior to being shot.”
The experts said the blood was instead spatter from the shot.
“It was our investigation that Marshall Coulter was moving from the left to the right at the time that my client had previously indicated, stop. Get down. Get down. Get down. He refused to comply with the request and he was making a b-line for the side door of the house where his wife and family were,” Boshea said.
The experts' reconstruction report showed Coulter was turned away from Landry when he was shot.
“This was the entry wound and this was the exit wound right here. So, clearly, Mr. Coulter had his back to Mr. Landry,” Foret said.
Also made clear in the report, is the role that the large number of surveillance cameras in the neighborhood played in the case.
Footage from one camera across Mandeville Street shows the victim riding down the street. And later, a shadowy figure jumps the Landrys’ fence.
From the night it happened, Landry maintained he thought coulter had reached for something on his left that could've been a weapon.
Turns out, the experts found it was Coulter's baseball cap.
Last week, DA Leon Cannizzaro said in a statement about his decision to not prosecute that whether Coulter was trying to run couldn't be considered by the jury if the case went to trial under Louisiana law and that the news about coulter's burglary arrests "irreversibly damaged" their case.