Firefighters in court: State, defense wrangle over key witness - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Firefighters in court: State, defense wrangle over key witness

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Jason Vaughn, 34 (Source: Caddo Correctional Center) Jason Vaughn, 34 (Source: Caddo Correctional Center)
Randy Chandler, 51 (Source: Caddo Correctional Center) Randy Chandler, 51 (Source: Caddo Correctional Center)
Billy Glass, 37 (Source: Shreveport Police Department) Billy Glass, 37 (Source: Shreveport Police Department)
Derrick Harris, 50 (Source: Shreveport Police Department) Derrick Harris, 50 (Source: Shreveport Police Department)
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

Prosecutors wrangled with defense attorneys Wednesday over how a key witness would testify in the case against 4 fired Shreveport firefighters charged with cruelty to the infirm and prostitution.

It's all in connection with allegations that the men were cruel to 2 mentally-challenged men who frequently visited Fire Station 8.  

Former firefighter Randy Chandler is accused of causing one of the victims to be stung repeatedly by fire ants, and of feeding him dog food while on duty as a fire captain.

Four other firefighters are facing the same charge, as well as 1 count each of principal to prostitution in connection with allegations that they knew of or took part in making arrangements for one of the men to have sex with a woman for money while at the fire station. Chandler, Fire Captain Derrick Harris, 17-year veteran and engineer Billy Glass, 11-year veteran firefighter Jason Vaughn and 4-year veteran firefighter Clint Richardson have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Vaughn, Chandler, Glass and Harris all attended a hearing in Caddo District Court Wednesday in which Assistant District Attorney Dale Cox was asked to explain to the judge why a notice was filed by the state of their intention to allow firefighter Rusty Canton to take the stand before the trial.

Cox said it was a provision that he probably wouldn't even need, but one that he wanted to have in place just in case his witness was not available for the trial. He told Judge Ramona Emanuel that under the criminal code he believes the District Attorney has the authority to allow his witness to take the stand before the trial. The legal term is "perpetuate testimony." Judge Emanuel disagreed with Cox and said the notice had no legal basis.

All four defense attorneys objected during the pre-trial battle over how and when the information Canton might provide in his testimony would be made available. They argued that it could affect how prepared defense attorneys would be to cross-examine the witness. Peter Flowers, who represents Clint Richardson, said they would need all the information from the discovery before cross-examining the witness.

"We would have been able to cross-examine them, but we would have cross-examined them before we had all the discovery and before we knew what to ask," said Flowers.

If Canton were to be allowed to testify before all of pre-trial discovery has been entered into the record, attorneys for the accused firefighters would not be well-equipped to question him. If Canton doesn't testify at trial, his pre-trial statements would be all that would be available.

March 21st is the deadline for the state to respond to all discovery requests.

April 2 is set for arguments and hearings.

No trial date has been set. 

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