BAY ST. LOUIS -- The murder trial of Glen Davis took an unexpected turn Wednesday. Cross-examination of the lead detective revealed two senior investigators had been removed from the case following the arrests of two neighbors initially suspected in the slaying of Maurice Colly.
Authorities arrested two other people before fingering Davis, who will face a life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Colly, a prominent Bay St. Louis real estate developer.
Jurors had heard testimony from four of Davis' girlfriends throughout the day but appeared to be on the edge of their seats when defense attorney Brian Alexander questioned the state's witness and lead investigator in the case, Bay police Detective Gary Hudgens.
Alexander began by calling into question the integrity of the investigation, asking Hudgens if he'd inherited the case from anyone else.
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Hudgens, who was fairly new to the position of homicide investigator at the time, said he took over after the senior and lead detectives were both "unassigned from the case" and later no longer employed by the Bay St. Louis Police Department.
Hudgens said both detectives had "extensive experience" as homicide investigators.
Alexander tried asking Hudgens why they were "kicked off the force," but Hudgens said only it was a personnel matter of which he had little knowledge.
"That's above my pay grade," Hudgens said.
The defense then asked about a couple, Otis Stewart and Carolyn Babb, who lived in the same apartment complex as the victim. The senior and lead detectives had secured arrest warrants for them early in the investigation.
Stewart had a previous arrest on an unrelated murder charge.
Hudgens said Stewart's arrest record was significant to him at the time of the investigation.
He also said Stewart and his girlfriend, Carolyn Babb, had left town the night Colly's body was discovered, but Hudgens said he understood their departure to be the result of a lovers' quarrel.
St. Tammany Parish deputies arrested Stewart and Babb near Slidell on March 9, 2012, on credit card fraud charges.
But Hudgens said Stewart and Babb were cleared as suspects in Colly's slaying after further interviews.
The prosecution has established a number of links between Davis and Colly.
Four of Davis' former girlfriends testified to suspicious activities and items left at their homes believed to be tied to Colly's apartment.
Davis had met all four on the dating website plentyoffish.com, and had been dating them at the same time. The TV show "America's Most Wanted" had given Davis the nickname "Gulf Coast Casanova" because of his many relationships.
One of the women said Davis wore a shirt similar to one found in Colly's apartment and that she and Davis had been at a Gulfport sports bar on the night of March 8, 2012. Surveillance footage showed someone in her vehicle using Colly's debit card to withdraw money from an ATM that same night.
The person in the car, however, hid his face behind the sun visor.
Hudgens testified the shirt, recovered from the apartment, contained DNA from both Davis and Colly.
Another girlfriend, Jo Richardson, testified Davis left tools at her house police believe were used to cut a hole in Colly's door to gain entry to his apartment. She also said Davis took her car and did not return it.
Davis was arrested in Walker, Mich., after U.S. marshals recovered Richardson's vehicle in nearby Grand Rapids. The license plate had been switched.
In his possession was a wig similar to one missing from a wig bag in Colly's apartment, Hudgens said.