Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Larry Jefferson is scheduled to consider next month whether to grant a new trial for a Monroe man convicted of second-degree murder, in spite of a state appeal court ordering Jefferson to sentence the man.
Eric Dominic Nabors, of Monroe, was originally convicted by a unanimous jury for the brutal slaying of a two-year-old child, for which he was arrested in November 2013. In late 2017, Jefferson tossed out the jury’s verdict and ruled Nabors was guilty of negligent homicide instead. The Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport later reversed Jefferson’s verdict swap. The Second Circuit remanded the case for sentencing, which has yet to happen.
Under state law, the penalty for second-degree murder is life imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
In an Oct. 12 motion for a new trial, Nabors argued his second-degree murder verdict was contrary to the law and to the evidence presented at trial.
“Mover further shows that the testimony including the alleged confessions were inconsistent and unsupported by the physical evidence and photographs introduced by the State of Louisiana,” stated Nabors’ motion for a new trial. “There is no testimony from any witness that saw the defendant hit, hurt, cause harm or cruelly treat the child victim.”
West Monroe attorney Randall Donald is representing Nabors.
The district attorney’s office described Nabors’ motion for a new trial as an attempted “second bite at the apple.”
Assistant District Attorney Daniel Hunter signed the state’s Dec. 12 memorandum in support of opposition to the defendant’s motion for a new trial.
The district attorney’s office argued Nabors failed to specify how a jury’s unanimous verdict was contrary to the law or to the evidence presented at trial.
“While it appears that the jury had questions concerning the definition of manslaughter and even asked for an example, it unanimously and correctly concluded the defendant was guilty of second degree murder, which should not be disturbed by the defendant’s request (for a new trial), no matter the basis,” stated the district attorney’s opposition.
The district attorney’s opposition memorandum pointed out a jury of Nabors’ peers as well as the Second Circuit had considered the sufficiency of the evidence against him.
In July, the Second Circuit overturned Jefferson’s ruling to free Nabors of the second-degree murder conviction. In State of Louisiana v. Eric Dominic Nabors, the Second Circuit vacated Jefferson’s change of Nabors’ verdict to negligent homicide as well as the five-year sentence Jefferson imposed on Nabors.
The jury’s verdict of second-degree murder was reinstated, and the case was remanded to Jefferson for sentencing.
Instead of setting a hearing for sentencing, Jefferson has set a hearing to consider Nabors’ motion for a new trial in January.
“Judge Jefferson has the case under advisement,” said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Johnson. “He’s delayed it three times.”
In August, when Nabors did not appear in court and his whereabouts were unknown, Assistant District Attorney Geary Aycock requested the court issue a bench warrant for Nabors’ arrest, according to Johnson.
Instead of a bench warrant, Jefferson issued a writ of attachment. According to Johnson, a writ of attachment is simply a local warrant, which is not entered in the national database.
At trial, Nabors did not call any witnesses or present any hypothesis to indicate there was any reasonable doubt as to his culpability, according to the district attorney’s opposition filing.
“The defendant had opportunities to cross examine the State’s witnesses and present their own witnesses at trial prior to a jury determining the guilty of the defendant, yet it did not call witnesses or present any evidence in support of the innocence of the defendant or provide enough reasonable doubt in the minds of twelve competent jurors that the defendant was innocent, a burden carried and met by the State at trial,” stated the district attorney’s opposition.
The district attorney’s opposition memorandum listed six witnesses, with highlights from their testimony at trial presented in bullet points, to indicate the sufficiency of evidence against Nabors.
According to court records, the November 2013 death of Jemarion T. Jackson, age 2, occurred after a woman left her son in Nabors’ care while she was at work.
“The child suffered major hemorrhaging at the brain stem, bilateral rib fractures, his liver was lacerated from trauma, his lungs were full of blood and his abdomen was filled with blood,” stated the Nov. 29, 2013 arrest affidavit of probable cause.
The coroner’s report stated there was evidence of blunt force trauma to the child’s head, torso and extremities. The injuries were inconsistent with accident or self-injury, according to the coroner.
Nabors told police he had instructed Jackson to take a nap at the house, and Jackson later threw up. Nabors said Jackson fell to the floor and that the injuries to the child’s head resulted from rough play with another child.
Later, Nabors said he could not explain any of the child’s bruising.
The district attorney’s office said the record reflected “unrefuted testimony of the minor child’s mother that the defendant called her at work and informed her that he was going to punish the child for soiling himself.”