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Jurors acquit man in '04 killing outside Kingfisher Avenue bar

Author(s): ADRIAN ANGELETTE Date: January 13, 2007 Section: Metro

deliberated into early Friday morning before returning a verdict of not guilty in a murder case stemming from a shooting outside a Kingfisher Avenue bar in 2004. In the end, defense attorney Thomas D'Amico said, jurors determined there was insufficient evidence to prove that his 20-year-old client, Deindre Whitfield, was the person who fired the gun that killed Roderick Harmason on Nov. 13, 2004.

Whitfield was on trial for second-degree murder. It carries an automatic life sentence if a person is convicted as charged.

"It's always nice to know the system works, and justice is done," D'Amico said Friday. "It was obvious the evidence just wasn't there to prove he was the person who did the shooting.

"Actually, the evidence showed he was not involved," D'Amico said.

During the two days of testimony, D'Amico said, prosecutors presented no physical evidence that linked Whitfield to the shooting.

He said there were two witnesses, one who said she saw Whitfield walking around the Jag Den bar, holding a gun and cursing on the night of the shooting.

Another witness testified she saw Whitlleld shoot Harmason, D'Amico said. But portions of the two witnesses' testimony conflicted, he said, and the woman who said she saw Whitfield shoot Harmason is a former girlfriend of the victim's.

In addition, the former girlfriend did not come forward with her story until two years after the shooting, D'Amico said.

By contrast, D'Amico said he called three witnesses who testified Whitfield was nowhere near where Harmason was shot.

Prosecutor Barry Fontenot could not be reached for comment Friday. In his opening statement, Fontenot told jurors that Baton Rouge police had a problem investigating the case, lie said there were a large number of people outside the bar on the night of the shooting and person after person told police they saw nothing.

Fontenot told jurors the people at the club belong to the "seamy, dark, underbelly" of Baton Rouge society who consider police to be the enemy and villains to be heroes.

Copyright (c) 2007 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.

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