SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - There is probable cause for the murder charges against two people suspected of fatally stabbing an elderly Shreveport woman, a Caddo District Court judge decided Wednesday.
Judge Ramona Emmanuel ruled that the first-degree murder charge against 25-year-old Roy Narcisse, of Alexandria, and the second-degree murder charge against 25-year-old Kiana Williams, of Ville Platte, will be upheld.
Narcisse and Williams are accused of killing 82-year-old Kathleen Creech Cates on Sept. 26.
Both Narcisse and Williams pleaded Not Guilty on Wednesday to their charges.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, Narcisse's New Orleans-based public defender, Christopher Murell, asked the judge to appoint new counsel for his client.
Murell argued that time constraints would keep him from being an effective attorney for Narcisse, even after filing 50 hours of pro bono work in the case.
Later Wednesday, Emmanuel filed an order and rule to show cause for the Louisiana Public Defender Board to appoint counsel, meaning that panel has until Feb. 20 to appoint a capitally certified counsel for Narcisse.
Shreveport police homicide Detective Jonathan Varnell was the only person called to testify Wednesday.
He answered questions about what he saw and did during his investigation into Cates' death.
"I was on call that day. ... Patrol officers were responding to a homicide," Varnell said on the stand.
According to his testimony, Cates' neighbor told police that Narcisse and Williams pulled up to her home back Sept. 26 and asked if they could do any yardwork.
The neighbor told Varnell she said she didn't and they then biked over to Cates' home, asked her the same question and got a job raking leaves.
Varnell said the neighbor told him she left to go run errands then came back to find Narcisse and Williams gone along with Cates' car.
The detective said Ava McElwee, one of Cates' daughters, then came to the house and found the door open, the home ransacked and her mother lying on the floor.
"She was found in her bedroom, covered in blood," Varnell testified. "She had some broken facial bones."
Thirty stab wounds were found on Cates, the detective said, and blood stretched from her living room to her kitchen to her hallway and into her bedroom.
Authorities canvassed neighbors, found a phone number the couple would give out for yardwork, traced it to their Facebook profiles then pinged their phone to eventually track down Narcisse and Williams, who still were in Cates' car in San Angelo, Texas.
Varnell said he and another officer traveled to San Angelo to interview the couple after they were arrested there.
In her interview, Varnell said, Williams claimed she and Narcisse came up with the plan to steal Cates' car while they were raking her leaves.
"She did not indicate a plan to kill her."
Varnell said Williams then told him they went inside and she planned to ask to use the bathroom while Narcisse searched for the car keys.
But the plan changed once Williams was in the bathroom.
"She heard what sounded like a punch," Varnell said Williams told him.
Williams told Varnell that she came out of the bathroom and saw Cates on the floor covered in blood, so they grabbed the car keys and ran.
Varnell testified that he was told a different story when he interviewed Narcisse.
Narcisse told the detective he went in the home to check on Cates because they hadn't seen her in a while and found her covered in blood, so they took the car keys and ran.
Varnell said Narcisse changed his story after more questioning.
"He stated: 'I murdered that woman'."
Narcisse then broke down crying and saying he didn't want to die, the detective testified.
In the courtroom Wednesday, Narcisse's public defender asked Varnell to disclose what evidence police reportedly have that places Narcisse in Cates' home since there were no eyewitness accounts of him actually going into the dwelling.
Varnell confirmed during the hearing that there was no forensic evidence inside Cates' home showing Narcisse or Williams were there despite.
There was only testimony from neighbors that the pair had come to Cates' home.
"There were no other factors that you were relying on at that point?" Murell asked.
"No, sir," Varnell replied.
The detective also testified that bloody objects found in Cates' car after Narcisse and Williams were arrested have not yet been returned from the crime lab.
Murell argued that the statements Narcisse gave to Varnell in San Angelo must be looked at more closely in light of the lack of forensic evidence.
"The reliability of this statement is absolutely paramount."
New arguments and hearings in the case will be heard Feb. 28.