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La. Supreme Court denies new trial for man convicted in slaying of officer, family

Lawyers say they will seek second appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
Credit: WWL-TV file photo
Police walk Rogers LaCaze to jail after his arrest for the killing of an NOPD officer and two members of a family in New Orleans East.

NEW ORLEANS -- The man convicted of killing a New Orleans police officer and two siblings inside a New Orleans East restaurant in 1995 will not get a new trial, the Louisiana Supreme Court said.

An opinion the court handed down Tuesday indicated Rogers LaCaze, 41, will spend the rest of his life in jail.

But LaCaze’s attorney said he will plan a second appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed with the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision,” said Amir Ali, an attorney for the MacArthur Justice Center. “Rogers Lacaze was denied the basic principles of fairness and due process at his trial, and we remain hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve this miscarriage of justice.”

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro praised the opinion.

"We are pleased that after a second round of careful consideration of this issue, the justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court have again reached the proper conclusion: That the post-conviction relief claims of Rogers Lacaze are without merit, and that this brutal killer's conviction was and still is just," he said in a prepared statement.

LaCaze’s decades-long appeal process spared him a death sentence after he and former NOPD officer Antoinette Frank were convicted of the murders of NOPD officer Ronnie Williams and siblings Ha and Cuong Vu at the Kim Anh restaurant.

Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court had to determine what the U.S. Supreme Court meant when it asked the justices to reconsider Rogers’ conviction.

LaCaze’s lawyers had argued during his trial 22 years ago that someone else, possibly Frank’s brother, took part in the killings with her.

Also among the issues LaCaze’s attorneys raised was one about whether now-retired Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo should have recused himself from the trial since investigators questioned him about how one of the guns that was used in the killing was obtained.

Attorneys for LaCaze argued that before the killings, Frank obtained two guns from the NOPD’s evidence room, including a 9mm gun. That type of gun was used in the killing, and an order for its release had Marullo's signature on it.

NOPD Public Integrity Bureau investigators interviewed the judge, who said he did not believe the signature on the document to release the gun was his.

The PIB investigator later determined the signature was forged.

“Judge Marullo’s communication and initial cooperation in the Bureau investigation into how the 9 mm gun was released was not adversarial or accusatory toward Defendant,” Justice John L. Weimer wrote in the opinion.

“Even if Judge Marullo, in fact, signed the order that authorized release of the 9 mm gun to Frank, Judge Marullo did nothing wrong; he was merely performing a ministerial act that he was fully authorized to perform,” Weimer continued.

Ultimately, Weimer wrote, LaCaze failed to prove any bias on Marullo’s part.

Frank remains on death row.

New Orleans Advocate reporter Matt Sledge contributed to this report.

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