NEW ORLEANS – The evidence was insufficient to convict the man now serving a 60-year sentence for a 2014 gunfight that left a bystander dead on New Orleans' Bourbon Street, a defense lawyer told Louisiana appeal court judges Thursday.
Trung Le was convicted of manslaughter for the death of a nursing student visiting from Hammond, Louisiana, and attempted manslaughter in the wounding of nine other people, including tourists from neighboring states and one from Australia.
The gunfight happened early on June 29, 2014, as tourists walked the famous street of nightspots in the historic French Quarter.
In the 2016 trial, the defense said Le fired in self-defense. And in Thursday's arguments at Louisiana's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, Judge Edwin Lombard raised the question of whether Le had a "stand-your-ground" defense.
"Trung Le simply doesn't have that argument," New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue said. She said video of the shooting caught by surveillance cameras clearly shows Le shooting first, about eight seconds before the other man — who has never been identified — fired back.
Defense lawyer Sherry Waters later noted testimony from the prosecution's own witnesses — two friends of Le's who were with him that night — that they felt threatened and feared they would be shot.
Prosecutors noted that Le's friends had given conflicting stories to the police and said there was no evidence they feared for their lives or safety when the gunfire broke out.
Prosecutors said evidence indicated Le's friends had been robbed of some marijuana more than an hour before the shooting in a drug deal gone bad. Rodrigue argued that they summoned Le, who showed up on Bourbon Street armed and started firing after the group spotted the man and confronted him.
The three-judge 4th Circuit panel gave no indication when it would rule.