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Baton Rouge murder charges follow body discovery in garden

Many people mistakenly believe all criminal charges for killing involve intent. Homicide is often equated with murder but it refers to any death caused by another person, not necessarily a death that was meant to happen. A defendant charged with first-degree murder is accused of killing with intent.

A Baton Rouge man told police investigators he killed his 77-year-old roommate. The men apparently quarreled before the argument got physical. The 54-year-old defendant's confession came after police discovered the roommate's bludgeoned and stabbed body, buried in a shallow garden grave at the home the men shared.

Reports said the defendant started living with the older man earlier this year. The younger man agreed to maintain the retired homeowner's property in exchange for residing in the home. A police investigation was triggered by a phone call from the homeowner's grandson, who was concerned he hadn't heard from his relative for several days.

Police visited the home but found nothing unusual. The investigation took a different turn, when authorities learned the missing man's debit card had been used at a nearby convenience store. A member of the older man's family also reported seeing blood stains inside the house.

Investigators returned to the property and noticed something amiss in a tomato garden. The missing man's body was buried there. Armed robbery and first-degree murder charges were filed, after the defendant confessed to the killing and using the victim's debit card.

The defendant left Parish Prison in February -- the same month he moved in with the roommate -- after bonding out on forgery and felony theft charges. The defendant allegedly stole blank checks from a woman who employed him to do home maintenance.

Without proof of intent, prosecutors cannot convict a defendant of first-degree murder. The state must provide evidence that wipes out any reasonable doubt a crime occurred, according to every provision of a criminal charge.

Source: The Advocate, "BR man accused of killing roommate, 77, and burying him in garden" Ryan Broussard, May. 21, 2014

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