SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A former co-defendant of the two men on trial for second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in the death of Shreveport Police Officer Chatéri Payne refused to testify Thursday when called to the stand.
Lawrence Pierre, 24, was originally scheduled to go on trial with co-defendants, 29-year-old Tra’vion Anderson and 41-year-old Glenn Frierson, but on the morning the trial was set to begin, he pleaded guilty. In exchange, the prosecution dismissed the conspiracy to commit murder charge.
Pierre was then taken to jail, and the trial for his former co-defendants began. Since the trial began, however, the prosecution has presented as much evidence against Pierre as it has against Anderson, who lived with Payne and their 2-year-old daughter in the home at 1633 Midway where Payne was shot and mortally wounded in January 2019.
Very little evidence has been presented against Frierson, Payne’s cousin, who it is believed dropped off Pierre on a nearby street just before Payne was shot and picked up Pierre shortly after the shooting.
Pierre was subpoenaed by the state and by both defense attorneys, but it was not until Thursday – Day 9 of the trial – that he was called to testify.
Throughout the trial, defense attorneys have expressed a desire to question Frierson, and his non-presence in the proceedings has left a huge gap because, for more than three years, the prosecution has been building a case around three co-defendants.
Before the jury was brought in, Pierre, wearing the black and white stripes of a convicted murderer, leg irons, shackles, and handcuffs attached to a wide brown belt, shuffled in, accompanied by a CPSO deputy.
As Pierre took a seat in the witness chair between the jury box and Judge John Mosely. His former defense attorney in the murder case, Edward Mouton, stood between Pierre and Judge John Mosely on the bench.
Mouton announced to the court that, contrary to media reports, Pierre did not agree to testify and would take the Fifth Amendment if he was asked questions.
“He will fight, he will not cooperate,” Mouton said.
Prosecutor Ron Stamps disagreed and said he would dismiss any charges that might be pending against Pierre as a result of his testimony, adding that it was not Mouton’s place to answer for Pierre.
Mouton again argued in favor of the Fifth Amendment and again Stamps said, “It is our position that he does not have the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment. At that point, Mosely agreed, telling Pierre and Mouton that the “Court agrees, the defendant does not have Fifth Amendment rights.”
Anderson’s attorney, John Bokenfohr, chimed in his agreement, calling Pierre’s refusal to cooperate “outrageous.”
After the jury was led in and Stamps began questioning Pierre, he was defiant, refusing to answer questions pulled from his own guilty plea, answering each time, “I prefer not to answer,” as Mouton stood by his side, watching.
And each time Pierre answered, “I prefer not to answer,” Mosely jumped in saying, “You have no Fifth Amendment rights.”
Still, Pierre repeated to the judge, “I prefer not to answer.”
After Stamps gave up and tendered Pierre to the defense attorneys, Pierre gave the same response to Bokenfohr’s questions, which was followed by a reminder from the judge that he had no Fifth Amendment rights, to which Pierre again gave his “I prefer not to answer” response.
When Frierson’s attorney, Mary Harried, took the stand, she asked Pierre several questions regarding past statements by Pierre that Frierson, his cousin, had nothing to do with Payne’s death; that Frierson did not know when he dropped off Pierre that he was going to the home where Payne was killed a few minutes later, nor was he aware what had happened when he picked up Pierre on another street after Payne was shot.
Again, to every question, Pierre answered, “I prefer not to answer,” and again Mosely told him he had no First Amendment rights.
Harried eventually grew weary of the situation and gave up.
Pierre was taken back to jail, where he is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole, or suspension of sentence, and court was adjourned until Monday morning.