Hancock County

Overlooked witness, dismissed juror: Judge deals with procedural issues on day 4 of Bay St. Louis murder trial

BAY ST. LOUIS -- Glen Davis, the so-called "Gulf Coast Casanova," could take the stand next week, after Friday's proceedings included the dismissal of a juror and nearly a mistrial.

The murder trial recessed for the weekend after several procedural issues unfolded Friday, the fourth day of testimony and the beginning of the defense's case.

After Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson called what was supposed to be a 20-minute break for Davis to decide if he would take the stand, the defense discovered another witness it wanted to call to testify. This prompted Dodson to recess the trial until Monday.

That witness may be Joe Kepfer, one of two Bay St. Louis police detectives removed from the investigation into the slaying of Bay St. Louis businessman Maurice Colly. The two were later fired from the department.

Dodson discussed Kepfer's presence at the courtroom Friday. Neither the defense nor prosecution had planned to call him as a witness, but prosecutors had subpoenaed him and apparently forgotten.

Kepfer was one of the key subjects of defense attorney Brian Alexander's cross-examination of Bay lead Detective Gary Hudgens. Alexander questioned Hudgens for nearly two days, attempting to raise doubts about the integrity of the investigation.

His cross-examination revealed Kepfer and senior Detective John Mitchell were removed from the case and later fired after arresting, then clearing, a couple who lived in the same apartment complex as Colly.

Another procedural issue surfaced Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors won a favorable ruling when the defense attempted to call rebuttal witness Paula Jacobson, who planned to testify Otis Stewart, one of the initial suspects, supposedly had some significant link to Colly.

However, until Friday afternoon, Alexander had not told prosecutors he planned to call the rebuttal witness, prompting the judge to consider declaring a mistrial or issuing a continuance to allow prosecutors time to prepare for Jacobson.

The state, however, argued against both of those options and asked the judge to strike Jacobson as a witness, which Dodson eventually did.

That same witness also prompted a juror's dismissal.

Dodson discovered one of the jurors bumped into Jacobson and had a brief conversation with her during the jury's lunch break.

Dodson called the juror in while the rest of the jury was out of the courtroom and asked about the nature of their conversation, which turned out to be mostly unrelated to the trial.

Nonetheless, the juror knew Jacobson through a mutual friend, and the state successfully argued for the juror's dismissal.

Earlier in the day, the defense called several witnesses, most of whom testified to Davis' whereabouts and mood on March 6, 2012, the date Colly is believed to have been killed.

Davis' father, Larry Davis, testified he and his son met and befriended Colly in 2006 or 2007.

The elder Davis said his son drove Colly's car on more than one occasion, including in November 2011 when he and his son were doing yard work for one of Colly's neighbors and Colly asked Glen Davis to move his car from the garage.

But Latonja Erving, a tenant of Colly's, said she was in her car the morning of March 6, 2012, when she saw Colly's car pull into his garage, though she couldn't see who was driving.

Under cross-examination, however, she told prosecutors the car seemed to be driving faster than usual and that when she waved at Colly's car, the driver did not wave back -- which was unusual for Colly.

Davis could take the stand as early as Monday.