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Teenage burglar in high-profile New Orleans self-defense case burglarizes again

Teenage burglar in high-profile New Orleans self-defense case burglarizes again

15-year-old Marshall Coulter, previously shot by Merritt Landry, apparently so eager to resume burglary that not even bullet through head was disincentive.

It was just days ago that I provided an update of the Merritt Landry self-defense case down in New Orleans: Merritt Landry home-defense shooting prosecution stalls.

In that post I noted the remarkable degree to which the Prosecutor was struggling to obtain an indictment from the Grand Jury on the charges of attempted second degree murder brought against Landry.  Twice the Grand Jury had taken up the case, and twice they had declined to take any definitive action, neither returning a “no-bill” (which would have dismissed the second degree murder charges against Landry) or an indictment (which would have progressed the matter to trial).

Keeping in mind that the Grand Jury really only gets to hear the Prosecution’s side of the story, with little or no pushback from the defense, struggling to get an indictment in such a one-sided affair with a relatively low bar to success (probable cause) does not bode well for the Prosecution winning at trial where they will face both a vigorous legal defense and a substantially higher burden of proof (guilty beyond a reasonable doubt).

Bottom line, such a case is all but certain to be a “loser” from the Prosecution’s perspective, and is rarely provided the time and resources necessary to bring to trial.  Absent, that is, other political motivations for pursuing the matter.  In this case, of course, we have Merritt Landry (white)  who shot Marshall Coulter (black 14-year-old) through the head, all in the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s (white) lawful killing of Trayvon Martin (black 17-year-old).   Landry told police he believed that Coulter (whom he did not know) was attempting to break into his home that July 26th night at 2AM.

Well, Marshall Coulter is back in the news, because he appears to have gone back to his chosen trade:  burglary.  (Following Coulter’s shooting his family acknowledged his extensive history of burglary arrests, and Coulter’s older brother referred to him publicly as a “professional thief.  This was, you’ll recall, a 14-year-old.)

The New Orleans Times Picayune and other local media sources are today reporting that Coulter, whom his family had been portraying for months as being essentially bedridden following the bullet to the head, was arrested yesterday in New Orleans on residential burglary charges.  A local resident phoned police to report a burglar in the area.  8th District detectives reporting to the scene detained Coulter, questioned, him, and charged him with burglary.

With this news it is my expectation that Landry’s prospects for being convicted on the attempted second degree murder charges have slipped from very low to essentially zero.  Coulter’s arrest on burglary charges–precisely the activity, combined with Coulter’s furtive movement as if reaching for a weapon, that Landry stated was the foundation for his reasonable fear of imminent harm goes straight to the heart of the State’s compelling (not so much here) narrative of guilt.

This prosecution was only ever going to have legs if Coulter could have been convincingly portrayed to the jury as an innocent 14-year-old looking for his ball that had accidentally gotten over the Landry fence that Coulter scaled at 2AM, and Landry as a hateful white man with an irrational fear of young black males.

Instead, this newest arrest shows Coulter, even at a mere 15 years of age, to be an experienced and hardened burglar so determined to ply his chosen trade that even having been shot through the head could not deter him.

I call this prosecution finished.  Over/under for when the official call is made?

–-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, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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MouseTheLuckyDog | May 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I saw a headline about this yesterday and thought, boy are they ( the writers of the headline) stupid, ‘they don’t mean the kid in the incident, they mean his accomplice.’ I thought he was far too damaged to do something like this.

Guess I underestimated the urge in some people towards stupidity and “turdism”.

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Two not mentioned consequences this puts to rest any potential civil action against Landry! Certainly any judge who doesn’t dismiss it out of hands with cost for Landry is going to be investigated for corruption.

The second is that my understanding a couple of months ago was that the prosecution was delaying presenting this to the grand jury because they wanted to give Coulter enough time to heal and testify. Guess the family was lying to the prosecutors. Are they going to face obstruction of justice charges?

In some cases a prosecutor will present a case to a grand jury to deliberately get a “no bill”. Will that happen here? If not is there any action Landry can force? This is a perfect example of the reason for Florida’s immunity statute. In Florida, Landry’s lawyers could go before a judge and finish it once and for all.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    If the prosecutor wanted a no bill, he would have charged Coulter with attempted burglary and whatever else he could drum up.

    NO has a huge black population and he wants to get re-elected. Blacks tend to vote as a bloc to advance their agenda rather than justice or fairness. It’s that simple, IMO.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Yea, but I think the point was that now the prosecutor can present it back to the Grand Jury, who will surely return a “no bill” and then if questioned about it he can dodge and say; “Hey, I took it to the Grand Jury 3 times and they turned it down, did all I could.”

      That would be the reason for taking it before them again, not any actual expectation of getting the indictment. Because regardless of the little thugs behavior the race baiters will still want this guy hung.

        Juba Doobai! in reply to Gremlin1974. | May 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm

        He didn’t try hard enough. If it had been a white kid shot by a black homeowner, the grand jury would’ve indicted the homeowner. That’s what the race baiters will say, and others will say um-hm.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Gremlin1974. | May 4, 2014 at 12:13 am

        I’m more worried about Landry.

        The statue of limitiations for murder ( and manslaugher I think ) is forever. Until a GJ no-bills Landry a prosecutor can come along and try to indict him. A no-bill basically puts it to rest for Landry.

Somehow I’m reminded of this by Henry Fielding in Joseph Andrews

Nature (who, as wise men have observed, equips all creatures with what is most expedient for them) [had] taken a provident care (as she always doth with those she intends for encounters) to make this part of the head three times as thick as those of ordinary men who are designed to exercise talents which are vulgarly called rational, and for whom, as brains are necessary, she is obliged to leave some room for them in the cavity of the skull; whereas, those ingredients being entirely useless to persons of the heroic calling, she hath an opportunity of thickening the bone, so as to make it less subject to any impression, or liable to be cracked or broken….

Landry should sue the state for everything he can think of — abuse of power, incompetence, damages, invasion of privacy, repayment of his legal fees and costs, entitlement to crime victim funds, going after him instead of seeking to lock up the little sh-head…

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to janitor. | May 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Thinking it is still in the local NO arena. I have no info that The State Prosecutor stepped in as in Florida .

Well, Ga-all-ly !

Suuu-Prize ! Suuu-Prize ! Suuu-Prize ! !!

    pjm in reply to pjm. | May 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    WordPress deleted my ‘Gomer Pyle’ tags around the above.

    It does seem Coulter is capable of SOME degree of learning, though. Not enough to stop him from doing burglaries again and again, but enough to get him to watch his ass and be still when he’s caught again, to avoid getting shot in the head again.

    Hey – maybe this could be part of the new ‘Common Core’ school curriculum ???

JackRussellTerrierist | May 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

It looks like whatever lawsuit Coulter and his detestable family had in mind for Landry is going to be a no-go. Coulter was supposedly severely brain-damaged, not going to recover further, etc..

In reading the comment section on one of the linked stories about the newer burglary by Coulter, it may be that he had cased the place and knew that there was a key in or near the mailbox, using it to gain entry before the owner walked in on him. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but if it is, that’s a lot of observation, planning, running and work for a bedridden, brain-damaged lad of fifteen.

    DouglasJBender in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 4, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Obviously, the little child is innocent. His recently burglary stems from the fact that he was shot in the portion of his brain that controls rational thinking — he couldn’t help his darling little self after his shooting, poor thing.

Phillep Harding | May 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Is this arrest admissible evidence in the Merritt Landry self-defense case?

    Ragspierre in reply to Phillep Harding. | May 3, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    No, not likely, and for good reasons. An arrest is not dispositive of anything, and the accused is due the presumption of innocence.

    That said, I would think the victim of the robbery attempt COULD be a very useful witness if…and that seems unlikely…there is ever a trial that Landry has to face.

      ConradCA in reply to Ragspierre. | May 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Doesn’t provide evidence to support that the “victim” was breaking into the house in order to steal and that supports the defendant’s claim of self defense?

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I hope that this is not something that is absolutely obvious to everyone. If so bear with me.

Notice how Coulter did this just after the Grandy Jury refused to indict? Guess he saw that the case was going nowhere decided he was never going to get a big payday, decided since that was the case he might as well go back to his normal way of life.

    tom swift in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 3, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    You’re attributing an excessive amount of cognitive horsepower to this professional lowlife.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to tom swift. | May 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      You’ve got his lawyers telling him and his family “stay clean” and “act as much as you can that you are sick”. His family keeps repeating it to him. He sees that big payoff and obeys. Then the grand jury fails to indict and he says “f that, I ain’t getting anything” and decides to grab something for himself.

      It doesn’t take a decent IQ.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 3, 2014 at 8:24 pm

        I agree with Tom. Coulter doesn’t have the mental prowess nor the impulse control to act as you suggest. He never will have it, and he didn’t have it before he crossed Landry. Coulter is, was, and will forever be a dumbassed ghetto rat.

        Given the grief and expense Coulter will cost over the next fifty years, I have to say it’s too bad Landry didn’t use a slug gun that night. Millions of other citizens and I are fed up with these savages in terms of the damage and grief they cause as well as the expense of the massive criminal justice system needed to deal with them.

… relatively low bar to success (probably cause) does not bode well …

Needs a bit of touchup there.

Phillep Harding | May 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Darn. That video is certainly short on information.

My, he certainly does get around for a bedridden, brain-damaged shooting “victim.”

Seems that both Zimmerman and Landry sized up their “innocent, young, black kid ‘victims'” pretty accurately.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Observer. | May 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Landry’s dog also .

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Observer. | May 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Yea, the impression that I had was that he was still in the hospital even today and couldn’t walk, talk, or chew bubble gum.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | May 3, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      Yes, supposedly he was almost a vegetable. It’s called the Ghetto Lottery. Epic fail this time.

      tom swift in reply to Gremlin1974. | May 4, 2014 at 1:12 am

      Certainly seems like a major fail for the press. I haven’t seen a reported hint that Coulter’s injuries weren’t anywhere near as severe as originally reported. Possibly such a report squeezed by me, but if so, it evaded the search engines as well.

      Good thing the professional press has so many layers of fact checkers and such.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | May 4, 2014 at 1:51 am

        The press will probably soon report that Coulter’s latest entrepreneurial endeavor was a manifestation of his traumatic brain injury caused by Merritt Landry, the mad dog white man with a gun.

Gremlin1974 | May 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I did note from the news story that Landry is out on bond, that money needs to be returned ASAP. Frankly, I think Landry should be standing at the door to the prosecutors office with his lawyer first thing Monday morning asking for the official announcement that the charges are dropped.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gremlin1974. | May 3, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    There was no money posted. The Court accepted a deed to secure the bond. As I understand it, the prosecutor had until 12/22/13 to file charges, but somehow he still can even though that date has passed if he gains new evidence or can get a GJ to indict based on what he already has. Here’s a story that sort of explains it, but it isn’t clear to me whether or not the bond has been released:

    Maybe Andrew can enlighten us or fill in the gaps of this explanation when he has a moment.

      Sorry, I’m no expert on local criminal procedure, and especially not in Louisiana, which is a bit of an oddity in the US legal landscape.

      I defer to any attorney willing to comment who actually practices law in Louisiana. 🙂

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | May 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm

        It might not matter anyway. My sense of NO is that they pretty much do as they wish or can get away with, regardless of what the law is. Some places are just like that.

        “Sorry, I’m no expert on local criminal procedure, and especially not in Louisiana, which is a bit of an oddity in the US legal landscape. ”

        Not to mention the gene pool 🙂

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 4, 2014 at 12:29 am

      No. It means that Landry cannot be “detained” passed 12/22/13. Likely he was booked under suspicion of whatever…

      Under a suspicion charge, you can keep the person in jail ( or on bail ) for a certain period of time, then either charge him or let him go. In this case that means that bail no longer applies and he is a free man until they charge him.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 4, 2014 at 1:54 am

        It MIGHT mean that, but this is NO. 🙂

        I’m thinking he probably got the deed back (bond released), but we have no way to be sure.

I’m sorry but if you get shot in the head breaking into people’s homes, survive, and then decide to go back into robbing people’s homes- well, you’re just a genetic dead end.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to JohnC. | May 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Darwin Award prospective candidate.

    tom swift in reply to JohnC. | May 4, 2014 at 1:18 am

    Well, no, actually he’s learned that he can do this and the law won’t impede him, and that even if he’s shot by one of his victims, that won’t impede him either.

    He’s actually a product of positive reinforcement.

    And at least as far as the law is concerned, he has another three years’ worth of Get Out Of Jail Free cards. So he’d better get somebody else’s property while the getting’s good.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to tom swift. | May 4, 2014 at 1:56 am

      ….unless he gets shot GOOD next time, and there WILL be a next time.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to tom swift. | May 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Plus, he’s a product of the self-esteem movement, s he’s dumb but feels good about himself enough that he thinks he’s too good a burglar to get caught again.

odds this punk is dead before age 20? Pretty damn high

maybe someone should have set a trap and ended his crime sprees once and for all.
nah thats too visceral for many.

ReverendBacon | May 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm

You asked for my over/under? I suspect it won’t be until some next election. Possibly the one in DC. Put me down for January 21, 2017.