Princess Lacaze will either receive a new trial or walk free on second-degree murder charges.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the prosecution erred in Lacaze's trial because it did not reveal a deal struck with the star witness in the trial, Lacaze's former lover, Meryland Robinson.
LaCaze was having an extramarital affair with Robinson, when Robinson shot and killed LaCaze's husband, Michael. LaCaze admitted that she knew about the planned murder in advance, saying that it was her dying husband's wish to be killed rather than to go on dialysis, which he was to begin shortly before his death.
At first, Robinson denied that LaCaze was involved, but he eventually admitted that he killed Michael because Lacaze asked him if he knew of someone who would kill her husband. Robinson later found out that Lacaze had another lover, reports the Town Talk.
Robinson and Lacaze were indicted in January 1998 for second-degree murder.
Robinson took a plea agreement and testified against LaCaze. Throughout his testimony, the prosecution focused on his credibility, pushing the fact that he was receiving a 40-year sentence and had no real incentive to lie on the stand.
What they failed to disclose was the other side of the plea deal-- that his son, who was 14 at the time of the crime, would walk on the accomplice charges for driving his father to the scene of the crime.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that district court's stipulation that Louisiana must either retry Lacaze within 180 days, or unconditionally release her. Lacaze's attorney, Michael Small, indicated that Lacaze is ready to plead not guilty and proceed to trial.
- FindLaw's Fifth Circuit blog (FindLaw)
- Princess Lacaze v. Warden (Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Case Dismissed: Alleged Murder-for-Hire Widow Can't Get Usufruct (FindLaw's First Circuit blog)