Unwanted visit by defense to victim's family could spur new law - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Unwanted visit by defense to victim's family prompts talk of new legislation

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Brian Horn was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing 12-year-old Justin Bloxom. Brian Horn was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing 12-year-old Justin Bloxom.
The state-funded Capital Appeals Project of Louisiana (CAPOLA) provides representation to indigent defendants facing the death penalty. The state-funded Capital Appeals Project of Louisiana (CAPOLA) provides representation to indigent defendants facing the death penalty.
DESOTO PARISH, LA (KSLA) -

An unwanted visit by someone from the law office working to appeal a convicted child killer's death sentence to the home of his victim's family has prompted talk of proposing legislation to keep it from happening again.

The state-funded Capital Appeals Project of Louisiana (CAPOLA) provides representation to indigent defendants facing the death penalty. The New Orleans-based non-profit is representing Brian Horn, who was sentenced to death Wednesday for the Stonewall teen's 2010 murder. 

Bloxom's mother says someone from that office showed up at her father's doorstep in Stonewall early Saturday morning, purportedly to let the family know that they would be filing appeals. Amy Witham Fletcher says she told Elizabeth Jordan that she had nothing to say to her, and that anything she or CAPOLA had to tell her, she would find out through the state. Jordan is listed as a Fellow on the Capital Appeals Project web site

CAPOLA staff attorney Michael Admirand is one of 2 with assisting in Horn's appeals project. He declined to comment on whether Jordan visited the home of the victim's family over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, "out of the respect for the judge, prosecutors and family." Admirand also says that Jordan is not representing Horn on the appeals case. 

It remains unclear why Jordan made the visit, or why it couldn't wait until prosecutors could be notified during regular business hours of the intent to file appeals. As of Thursday, no motions had been filed, but Admirand confirms that they are in the works. 

By law, Horn's sentence will automatically appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court. If that is unsuccessful, the appeal goes to the United States Supreme Court. 

Caddo prosecutor Dhu Thompson, who was appointed as a special prosecutor to assist in the DeSoto Parish capital murder case, tells KSLA News 12 that he knows of "no investigative reason" for the unsolicited visit. "Anything they can file, they can certainly notify the state," Thompson says. 

"My concern is that this is going to be a trend for the future," says Thompson, who says he expects to work with the Louisiana District Attorney's Association and area legislators to craft a "suitable and appropriate amendment" that would provide some sort of enforcement and prevent unwanted and unsolicited contact with victims by representatives of the accused or convicted. Exactly what form that enforcement would take has yet to be determined, but Thompson says it could possibly include provisions for holding violators in contempt of court or an injunction. 

Title 46, Louisiana's Victim's Rights Act, spells out some protections for victims as far as contact by defense, but Thompson says there no express provision preventing the kind of contact that Amy Witham Fletcher and her family were subjected to over the long holiday weekend. 

Any proposed legislation to amend that law would not be ready in time to be introduced in the 2014 Louisiana legislative session, which will wrap up on Monday, June 2. Thompson says it would likely be proposed in a future session. 

In the meantime, Thompson says the state is anticipating Horn's appeal, and they are already working on the state's response. "We are looking at every legal avenue to expedite at this point." 

Thompson says making sure Horn's destiny with the death penalty is not held up by delays and appeals is the state's top priority to ensure Justin Bloxom's family comfort and peace. "The process over the years has been lax, and it's time for us to push these cases for resolution for the victims."  
Horn was remanded to the custody of the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office following his sentencing on Wednesday and transported to Angola Prison.

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