Katrina evacuees who came to Shreveport found guilty in death of infant son

Story by Fred Childers

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A couple who came to Shreveport to flee the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina face life in prison after a judge found them guilty in the death of their infant son Thursday (August 21st, 2008).

Caddo District Judge Jeanette Garrett found Tiffany Woods and Emmanuel Scott guilty of second-degree murder in the starvation death of their infant son, Emmanuel Woods. Both Woods and Scott sat in court with no expression on their faces as the verdict was read.

"This is the most difficult case I've presided over," said Garrett. "There's no doubt in the court's mind this baby starved to death."

During the trial, the defense said the baby's premature birth and the stress of the storm and subsequent move led to the infant's death. However, the judge said too much time had passed for that to have played a factor. Garrett also accused both defendants of lying while on the stand.

The couple had testified on the stand that they had run out of WIC, and couldn't afford formula, so they decided to use milk.

Defense attorney, Edward Mouton told Judge Garrett that there is no evidence that Woods and Scott decided to kill their child. Mouton went on to explain that the couple's decision to switch the child from formula to a half milk - half water diet was an honest mistake. A pediatrician, called by defense did little to help the defense when she testified that an infant could not survive on such a diet for more than a couple of weeks.

Prosecutor, Grady O'Callaghan told Judge Garrett during closing arguments that the pictures of the baby, which shows a very skinny infant with bones showing all over it's body, speak for themselves. O'Callaghan went on to tell the judge "This baby didn't die in a hut in another nation, it died in a house in Shreveport, with a refrigerator that was full of beer and food".

The couple is set to be sentenced on September 3rd.

The infant was born before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Woods and Scott came to Shreveport shortly after Katrina hit New Orleans. In late November 2005, Woods called 911 from her home on Ralph Place, saying her baby wasn't breathing. He was later pronounced dead. Detectives testified that the other childen in the home were very dirty, however the home was clean.

An autopsy later found the infant died from malnutrition, and dehydration. Woods and Scott were arrested and charged with the baby's death in September of 2006.