Appeals court overturns murder conviction of Vermilion Parish man; prosecutor to appeal

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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — An appeals court has overturned the second-degree murder conviction of a Vermilion Parish man who shot his hunting partner

The court ruled Wednesday that evidence the two men had argued in the past was not enough to prove the killing was intentional.

The state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal instead handed down a judgment of negligent homicide against Quint Mire in the 2011 shooting death of Julian Gajan and sent the case back to the district court for resentencing.

Mire, who admitted taking crystal methamphetamine, claimed he mistook Gajan for a deer.

Mire now faces up to five years in prison on the negligent homicide charge, rather than the life sentence he had received in the case.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1riPnSV ) prosecutors plan an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"We certainly disagree with the court's decision since the jury heard all the evidence and found otherwise," 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson said in an email.

There were no witnesses to the shooting, but prosecutors offered testimony that the two men had fought a few months earlier over gasoline Gajan had allegedly stolen from Mire's truck and that Mire might have been upset over money Gajan owed his family for crab traps, according to a summary of the case in the appeals court ruling.

Testimony at trial also included statements from a man who said Mire had once told him they could kill Gajan and "get away with it."

On appeal, Mire's attorney questioned the credibility of the witness, considering he had been cooperating with investigators in other cases in return for having charges dismissed.

Mire, who had known Gajan for at least 17 years, testified at trial that he did not speak up about the shooting because he was scared.

"I did not think at any point that Quint Mire murdered that guy," said Mire's attorney, Burton Paul Guidry. "It was simply compounded by Mr. Mire's inability to deal with it for three days."

The three-judge appeals panel voted 2-1 to overturn Mire's second-degree murder conviction.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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