April 22, 2008, - 9:48 am

Introducing the Katrina Defense

By Debbie Schlussel
You’ve heard of the Twinkie Defense, the PMS Defense, and other absurd defenses which defense attorneys have successfully used to get their murderer clients acquitted of the charges.
Now, meet the Hurricane Katrina Defense. It’s the latest rage at the criminal defense bar:

If Gregory Christopher Decay is convicted of capital murder this week, his attorneys plan to argue that the former New Orleans resident pulled the trigger on a Fayetteville couple while traumatized from Hurricane Katrina.
The capital murder trial for Decay, 24, begins today in Washington County. He is accused in the April 2007 slayings of Kevin Barkley Jones and Kendall Rachell Rice, both 24.


Jones and Rice were shot in the head in a drug dispute, court records show. Their bodies were found in their Fayetteville apartment.
Deputy public defender Julie Tolleson said that if Decay is convicted, she will argue that trauma caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 will be part of mitigating evidence in the sentencing phase.
“We’ll want to tell as much of his life story as we can,” Tolleson said. “And Katrina is part of what got him here today.” Decay’s isn’t the first case where the deadly hurricane and its aftermath have been part of court strategy. The Katrina angle has been an element in other criminal cases in Arkansas and Texas – states that saw an influx of refugees when the storm slammed the Gulf Coast.
Little Rock lawyer John Wesley Hall Jr. planned to use the defense in the case of a Katrina refugee charged in Arkansas with a felony drug crime. The case, however, never went to trial because the man disappeared, and he’s believed to have committed suicide in New Orleans, Hall said.
“We planned to put on evidence showing the true horrors of what Katrina was, with bodies floating by in high water and people trapped in their homes without anything for a week,” said Hall, who is president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
“These people were uprooted and separated from family and friends and everything they knew, and we were going to show that this kind of psychological trauma can last for years,” he said.

Hmmm . . . Why hasn’t there been the 9/11 defense? We’ve already seen the Gitmo detainee defense–the “trauma” of listening to Christina Aguilera, reading Harry Potter on a LaZ Boy, and eating at the halal buffet.

10 Responses


samurai on April 22, 2008 at 11:03 am

Seriously, you’re grasping at straws here. This is not a defense! The article clearly states that if convicted, it will be used during the sentencing phase of the trial. As a lawyer, I would expect you to know this, Ms. Schlussel. Moreover, during the sentencing phase, failure to present mitigating evidence could be seen as a violation of the defendant’s Constitutional rights. So the lawyer is just doing everything she can to prevent her client from getting the death penalty. Is our society that hungry for death that we can’t look at how awful someone’s life has been when we are determining whether to put that person to death?

adam on April 22, 2008 at 12:11 pm

There are defenses lawyers haven’t thought of yet. They’ll find them.

NormanF on April 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm

SPEAKING OF KATRINA – here is a highly insightful commentary from Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a black minister:
Say a hurricane is about to destroy the city you live in. Two questions:
1. What would you do?
2. What would you do if you were black?
Sadly, the two questions don’t have the same answer.
To the first: Most of us would take our families out of that city quickly to protect them from danger. Then, able-bodied men would return to help others in need, as wives and others cared for children, elderly, infirm and the like.
For better or worse, Hurricane Katrina has told us the answer to the second question. If you’re black and a hurricane is about to destroy your city, then you’ll probably wait for the government to save you.
This was not always the case. Prior to 40 years ago, such a pathetic performance by the black community in a time of crisis would have been inconceivable. The first response would have come from black men. They would take care of their families, bring them to safety, and then help the rest of the community. Then local government would come in.
No longer. When 75 percent of New Orleans residents had left the city, it was primarily immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out. This, as we know, did not turn out good results.
Enter Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan. Jackson and Farrakhan laid blame on “racist” President Bush. Farrakhan actually proposed the idea that the government blew up a levee so as to kill blacks and save whites. The two demanded massive governmental spending to rebuild New Orleans, above and beyond the federal government’s proposed $60 billion. Not only that, these two were positioning themselves as the gatekeepers to supervise the dispersion of funds. Perfect: Two of the most dishonest elite blacks in America, “overseeing” billions of dollars. I wonder where that money will end up.
Of course, if these two were really serious about laying blame on government, they should blame the local one. Responsibility to perform ñ legally and practically ñ fell first on the mayor of New Orleans. We are now all familiar with Mayor Ray Nagin ñ the black Democrat who likes to yell at President Bush for failing to do Nagin’s job. The facts, unfortunately, do not support Nagin’s wailing. As the Washington Times puts it, “recent reports show [Nagin] failed to follow through on his own city’s emergency-response plan, which acknowledged that thousands of the city’s poorest residents would have no way to evacuate the city.”
One wonders how there was “no way” for these people to evacuate the city. We have photographic evidence telling us otherwise. You’ve probably seen it by now ñ the photo showing 200 parked school buses, unused and underwater. How much planning does it require to put people on a bus and leave town, Mayor Nagin?
Instead of doing the obvious, Mayor Nagin (with no positive contribution from Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the other major leader vested with responsibility to address the hurricane disaster) loaded remaining New Orleans residents into the Superdome and the city’s convention center. We know how that plan turned out.
About five years ago, in a debate before the National Association of Black Journalists, I stated that if whites were to just leave the United States and let blacks run the country, they would turn America into a ghetto within 10 years. The audience, shall we say, disagreed with me strongly. Now I have to disagree with me. I gave blacks too much credit. It took a mere three days for blacks to turn the Superdome and the convention center into ghettos, rampant with theft, rape and murder.
President Bush is not to blame for the rampant immorality of blacks. Had New Orleans’ black community taken action, most would have been out of harm’s way. But most were too lazy, immoral and trifling to do anything productive for themselves.
All Americans must tell blacks this truth. It was blacks’ moral poverty ñ not their material poverty ñ that cost them dearly in New Orleans. Farrakhan, Jackson, and other race hustlers are to be repudiated ñ they will only perpetuate this problem by stirring up hatred and applauding moral corruption. New Orleans, to the extent it is to be rebuilt, should be remade into a dependency-free, morally strong city where corruption is opposed and success is applauded. Blacks are obligated to help themselves and not depend on the government to care for them. We are all obligated to tell them so.
The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is founder and president of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, and author of “The Seven Guaranteed Steps To Spiritual, Family, and Financial Success” guide. He’s also host of “The Jesse Lee Peterson Radio Show.” For more information, visit http://www.bondinfo.org.

JasonBourne81 on April 22, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Jason, not only was what you said true…but unfortently this is the truth of most blacks in america. I’m ashamed at my ethicity for alot of things, and this is one of them.
But you forgot one thing…so-called entertainer Kayne West said that Bush hates black people. Not to change the subject, but the last I checked…Bush had blacks in his adminstration. Bill Clinton never had a single black person in his.
So uh…..yeah…exactly.

Squirrel3D on April 22, 2008 at 4:29 pm

“Is our society that hungry for death that we can’t look at how awful someone’s life has been when we are determining whether to put that person to death?”
Adam: I do not care what awful life a murderer has had. Excuses are not worth examining. Having endured personal pain is no excuse for causing some innocent person pain. I care about the awful pain he caused the victim and the awful pain that the victim’s loved ones will have to endure for the rest of their lives.
The Liberal “abuse excuse” actually enables many killers to more easily act out their pathology. In their minds, it gives them a green light to kill.
The road to Hell, is paved with good intentions.

FreethinkerNY on April 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Hey FreethinkerNY,
Some crimes do deserve the death penalty. And yes, it is understandable that there should be no consideration for a killer’s upbringing. However, the US Supreme Court feels otherwise, and has ordered circumstances of aggravation and mitigation to be presented to the jury that will determine whether to give life without parole or death. The Katrina “defense” is no defense at all, but a circumstance in mitigation. So let us assume that the lawyer decides not to present the Katrina horrors as mitigating evidence (again, not a defense, just a circumstance in mitigation), the defendant can then claim that his Constitutional rights were violated by having ineffective assistance of counsel because the lawyer decided not to present the mitigating evidence even though his client wanted him to. So now, a new jury has to be called, hear all the aggravating and mitigating circumstances again, all at a cost to the taxpayer. And the wacky thing about it? The jury that didn’t hear the Katrina mitigation and the jury that did hear the Katrina mitigation will both vote for death. So really, no need to get in an uproar over a lawyer covering themselves by presenting the mitigating evidence their client asks for. By the way, I would love to see your data on killers believing they have a green light to kill based on their upbringing. Are telling me that a (hypothetical) sociopath serial killer that has been raped multiple times by a relative thinks to themselves “Hey, I was raped, I can use that as an excuse when I kill. Woohoo! Thank God I was raped!” No, they have suffered so much damage to their psyche that they could kill with no remorse.

adam on April 22, 2008 at 10:05 pm

You know, I feel for the “Greatest Generation”. All of the sacrifice made to ensure our safety, sovereignty, and liberty has been squandered by subsequent generations too occupied with how someone “feels” or how they were raised in order to enforce societal morals. The term “black community” is an oxy-moron. This group of people doesn’t even consider itself “American”. The truth hurts and it’s becoming more apparent that the old race-baiting, race-hustling routine is no longer valid. This group of people is no longer oppressed, more specifically, they are coddled. They blame their problems on everyone but themselves. They accept no accountability or responsibility. And finally and most depressingly, Dr. Peterson is spot on: they destroy everything they overtake. A blanket staement, you say? Absolutely! But those responsible and capable blacks who stand up to this are few and far between. More importantly, those who can but do not, are culpable. This leaves the door open for serpents like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan to ply their sleazy trades.

FreeAmerican on April 23, 2008 at 10:27 am

Deb’s hatered of blacks is typical of a Jew.

awolcowardbush on April 23, 2008 at 1:07 pm

How come she let’s blacks like me post in here then?
Look man, nice attempt but you don’t speak for all blacks. Just another loser that needs his attention everyone….don’t respond to him and don’t waste your time.

Squirrel3D on April 23, 2008 at 1:32 pm

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