SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Federal prosecutors say a key witness died then another decided to change his/her testimony, seriously jeopardizing their case against a former Bossier sheriff and 2 used car dealers.
That's why charges of criminal conspiracy and federal program theft have been dropped against ex-Bossier Sheriff Larry Deen and Clifton and Clinton Blakey, says a statement Aug. 5 from U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley's office.
The dismissal comes 10 days before the 3 were set to go to trial.
When a key witness died unexpectedly June 16, prosecutors decided they still had enough admissible evidence to proceed to trial, the statement says.
A 60-year-old southwest Shreveport resident was found fatally shot about 5:30 p.m. June 16 in her vehicle on an oil field road off Keithville-Keatchie Road.
Caddo sheriff's deputies said workers in the area saw the vehicle belonging to Mary Jean McBroome, of the 2500 block of Kristiansand Court, around noon that day but it wasn't until later that they realized she was inside.
Authorities said McBroome's death was being investigated as suspicious.
On Aug. 4, another key government witness retracted statements previously made during the course of the investigation to build a case against Deen and the Blakeys.
"In light of the witness developments, the government believes that its ability to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt has been seriously jeopardized," says the statement from Finley's office.
"I have authorized the prosecutors in this case to seek dismissal of the pending charges based on evidentiary developments in this case," the U.S. attorney says in the statement. "The untimely death of a significant government witness and the change of testimony by a second witness has called into question our ability to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.
"I am mindful of our obligation to continually assess the evidence in our possession in light of our burden of proof, and to ensure that the interests of justice are met."