LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The Louisiana Supreme Court has agreed to review a lower court's decision overturning a jury's manslaughter conviction of a burglar whom prosecutors say literally scared a Lafayette woman to death in 1999 when she returned home and found him inside.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1w0nLvf ) the Lafayette Parish District Attorney's Office is seeking to reverse the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal's decision to throw out Willie James Robertson's manslaughter conviction in the death of 86-year-old Irene Schoofs.
Robertson was convicted in 2013 by 11 of 12 jurors who determined Robertson's presence in the home caused Schoofs, 86, to have a heart attack when she returned home and found him inside. Judge Glennon Everett sentenced Robertson to the maximum sentence for manslaughter, 40 years.
The 3rd Circuit last April overturned the manslaughter conviction, and then went a step further and acquitted Robertson, basically finding him not guilty. That means if the Supreme Court does not overturn the 3rd Circuit decision, prosecutors cannot bring Robertson to trial again for Schoofs' death.
Lafayette Parish District Attorney Keith Stutes said the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments, but has not set a hearing date. Stutes said there was little else to say about the appeal.
One of Stutes' assistant district attorneys, Roger Hamilton, prosecuted the case in state court and last year argued to uphold the guilty verdict before the 3rd Circuit.
Schoofs' granddaughter found the 86-year-old's body in the kitchen of Schoofs' home. Authorities said she was still clutching grocery bags from the nearby Piggly Wiggly and had been dead for at least 18 hours.
But it took years to identify a suspect because of the fingerprint analysis system in use in 1999. In 2011, while Robertson was in jail on a burglary charge, detectives using a computer matched his fingerprints with those found in Schoofs' home.
Robertson remains incarcerated in the Avoyelles Parish Correctional Center.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com
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