Jury finds man accused of killing BAFB airman not guilty of second-degree murder

Published: Jun. 23, 2017 at 3:07 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2017 at 10:40 PM CDT
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Benjamin Shaw, 21 (Source: Bossier City Police Department)
Benjamin Shaw, 21 (Source: Bossier City Police Department)
Technical Sergeant Zechariah Casagranda. (Courtesy: Facebook)
Technical Sergeant Zechariah Casagranda. (Courtesy: Facebook)

BENTON, LA (KSLA) - A year-and-a-half after the night of a fatal stabbing, a Bossier Parish jury found 23-year-old Benjamin Shaw, accused of second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of Tech. Sgt.  Zechariah Casagranda an Airman based at Barksdale Air Force Base, has found him not guilty.

Shaw;s attorney, Jose Baez, told KSLA outside the courtroom after the verdict that he was happy his client received a fair shot in court.

"We think it was the right verdict. Mr. Shaw acted in pure self-defense. This was a typical self-defense case," he said. "I thought the investigation left a lot to be desired. I think if there's ever a fight, both sides should be investigated equally and there shouldn't be a rush to judgment and just because one group has more people on their side, I think the police need to follow the facts."

"There are no winners in this case. The Casagranda family lost a loved one and the Shaw family, their son will never be the same. He's traumatized over this incident."

The jury started deliberations just after 2:30 p.m., but then returned to the courtroom at 5:20 p.m.

Judge Michael Craig instructed the jury that they can reach 1 of 4 verdicts: Guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter, guilty of negligent homicide or not guilty.

After deliberating for two hours, the jury told Bossier Parish deputies that they had another question. The jury requested to rehear Jose Rodriguez's testimony.

However, Judge Craig told the jury, they cannot rehear testimony. They could see the pictures of the blood in the parking lot.

Casagranda, 34, was stabbed last January outside the Rockin Rodeo night club in Bossier City back on January 23rd, 2016.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jacobs gave the prosecution's closing arguments first thing Friday morning, taking on Shaw's claim of self-defense.

Jacobs told the jury that "The truth in this case is that Benjamin Shaw stabbed an unarmed Zechariah Casagranda 10 times in a matter of seconds," and that "Ben Shaw wasn't scared of anything that night except getting caught."

Jacobs also referred to testimony from a pathologist who said Casagranda had been stabbed multiple times.

The state rested its case Wednesday,

Shaw's defense team, led by high-profile attorney Jose Baez, rested their case on Thursday after testimony that included a contract employee who was working at the club at the time. Danny Harris described a series of fights that led up to the final fatal encounter between Shaw and his friends and Casagranda and his friends.

According to Harris' testimony, he and club entertainer Trini Triggs broke up the fight. Harris stayed with Casagranda and his friends. Triggs, who also testified, stayed with Shaw and his friends.

Harris testified that Cassagranda and his friends started the fight, saying "they were 1000% the aggressors."

The trial began last Friday and has focused on what led up to the fatal fight, with testimony from witnesses and friends of both Shaw and Casagranda.

Baez began closing arguments in Shaw's defense around Noon on Friday with a picture from "To Kill a Mockingbird" in which Atticus Finch tells Scout that you can't judge a man without walking in his shoes before homing in on the question of who started it, which has been an underpinning of the self-defense claim.

Casagranda's family declined to comment following the verdict and could not confirm to KSLA if they planned to appeal.


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