Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when my self-defense law predictions are so often right.

The New Orleans Times Picayune is reporting  today District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro of the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office officially announced they were dropping their efforts to prosecute Merritt Landry for attempted second degree murder over Landry’s shooting of then 14-year-old Marshall Coulter through the head . (h/t @nadraenzi, aka “capblack,” who has been a vigorous supporter of Landry since the start.)

It was just twelve days ago that we reported here at Legal Insurrection about Coulter’s arrest on new burglary charges, (Teenage burglar in high-profile New Orleans self-defense case burglarizes again) and only nine days ago that we also reported here that Coulter had been freshly charged with a home invasion he allegedly committed when he was a mere 13 years old (Teenage burglar in New Orleans self defense case charged in separate home invasion).  In that incident Coulter is claimed to have threatened the surprised and frightened homeowners with their own firearm.  We ended that second post by noting:

One would think that this latest news can only accelerate the date at which prosecutors will formally  cease their efforts to prosecute Landry on the attempted second degree murder charges on which they have been unable to get an indictment after multiple attempts, even prior to Coulter’s latests series of arrests.

Boom. Today District Attorney Cannizzaro released a statement explaining the decision of his office to drop the case:

My office has closed its investigation of Merritt Landry and has declined to institute prosecution for any charges arising out of his arrest on July 26 of last year.  . . . I am ethically obligated not to charge an individual against whom I do not possess evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a crime. Such evidence does not exist in this case. Following Coulter’s most recent burglary arrests, any case that this office had against Landry was irreversibly damaged.  . . . In an effort to obtain an indictment of Merritt Landry, my office presented an in-depth and thorough case to the Grand Jury. They pretermitted the case, which means that nine jurors could not agree to either charge or not charge Landry with a crime. Following Coulter’s most recent burglary arrests, any case that this office had against Landry was irreversibly damaged.

Cannizzaro also seemed quite displeased with having been misled by Coulter’s family about his physical condition, which has self-evidently improved sufficiently for the now 15-year-old to be arrested on fresh burglary charges.

Based on numbers interactions with Coulter, as well as interviews with his family and healthcare providers, we were repeatedly led to believe that he was in what can best be described as an irreparable, semi-vegetative state.  When we visited with Coulter less than three months ago, we were led to believe that he could not walk without assistance and could only provide single-word responses to the simplest questions.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, would seem to wrap up the Merritt Landry self-defense case.

Joseph Walker Next Major Self-Defense Trial To Be Covered by Legal Insurrection

Next up:  The Joseph Walker trial, set to begin in less than a week, on Wednesday, May 21.  This is the case of the New Jersey police officer who shot and killed  in an apparent road rage incident in Maryland.  We’ll be covering the trial as closely as circumstances permit–if the trial is broadcast, I’ll be live-tweeting it and doing one or two updates per day right here at Legal Insurrection.  If it’s not broadcast, we’ll cover and post as news breaks.  Prior to the trial I will post up some background on the relevant Maryland self-defense law, to set a solid foundation for our understanding of the case as it unfolds at trial.

For our past coverage of this case from the very first reports, see below (in reverse chronological order):

“Road Rage” Murder Trial: Motion to Dismiss, Grand Jury Testimony

“Road Rage” Murder Trial: Witness Arrives After Harvey Down

“Road Rage” Murder Trial: Witness Says Walker Shot Stopped Harvey ~40′ Away

“Road Rage” Murder Trial: Witness Provides Confusing, Mistaken Testimony

“Road Rage” Murder Trial: Witness Provides Confusing, Mistaken Testimony

“Road Rage” Murder Trial: Walker Appeared to Goad Harvey: “Come on.”

“Road Rage” Murder Trial: Off-duty Cop’s Roadside Statement

Off-duty cop “Road Rage” 911 call: “I had to fire my weapon.”

Off-duty cop “Road Rage” 911 call: “They were going to fight on side of road”

Witness says off-duty “Road Rage” cop not aggressor in Maryland shooting

Off-Duty Cop “Road Rage” Case: Cracks Appear in Prosecution Narrative

Off-duty “Road Rage” Cop lawyer: Grand Jury given “materially false and misleading testimony”

Off-Duty Cop Road Rage Murder Trial – next big self-defense case

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.