Court affirms Grover Cannon’s conviction over slaying of Shreveport police Officer Thomas LaValley
“Defense counsel, by skillfully framing the claim of self-defense, avoided admitting the defendant’s guilt. ...”
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Louisiana’s 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Jan. 12 affirmed the conviction of the man who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Shreveport police Officer Thomas LaValley.
Grover Cannon stood trial for a week in 2019 then was convicted and sentenced.
Two months ago, a lawyer for the convicted cop killer took 20 minutes to ask a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit to overturn that conviction. The appellate attorney argued that Cannon’s Sixth Amendment right to choose the objective of his defense was violated when his trial lawyer ignored his objection and presented a self-defense argument.
Cannon and his lead defense attorney, Dwight Doskie, sparred several times during the trial in 2019 when Doskie tried to present evidence of self-defense.
Instead, Cannon wanted lawyers to argue to the 12 jurors that he was not in the Queensborough home where LaValley was killed in 2015 and that Cannon’s arrest was part of a law enforcement conspiracy.
The defense portion of the trial presented odd moments for the court when Doskie essentially was tasked with presenting both defenses to jurors and, at times, cross-examining witnesses with questions that Cannon had written on a piece of yellow legal paper.
While Cannon eventually was found guilty of first-degree murder, he avoided the death penalty for killing LaValley and instead got life in prison with no possibility of parole or early release because the jury failed to return a unanimous decision to end Cannon’s life in the sentencing phase of the trial.
Citing the case of McCoy v. Louisiana, Cannon’s appellate attorney argued before the 2nd Circuit that Caddo District Judge Ramona Emanuel violated Cannon’s Sixth Amendment right to choose his own defense when she failed to stop Doskie from pursuing the self-defense strategy.
During its 15 minutes before the 2nd Circuit’s panel, prosecutors rebuffed Cannon’s argument by telling the justices that Cannon’s preferred defense of conspiracy based on his alleged absence from the murder scene was, in fact, presented to jurors and that the secondary defense of self-defense in no way prejudiced Cannon’s rights.
The 2nd Circuit panel took the arguments under advisement and gave no timeline as to when a decision would come. The judges announced their decision Wednesday, Jan. 12 in affirming Cannon’s conviction.
The 2nd Circuit ruled that it’s apparent that Cannon’s attorney “did not concede, admit or suggest” that Cannon committed murder and, in fact, “clearly expressed (Cannon’s) assertion (that) he did not commit the crime.”
In summation, the three-judge panel found that “defense counsel, by skillfully framing the claim of self-defense, avoided admitting the defendant’s guilt. Therefore, counsel avoided violating the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights ... .”
• Grover Cannon appealing conviction in killing of Shreveport police Officer Thomas LaValley in 2015
• Act 22 of 2016, which designates the Officer Thomas LaValley Memorial Bridge on Louisiana Highway 154 in Bossier Parish
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