French death row inmate in re-appeal

18th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Dec 17 (AFP) - Michael Legrand, a French citizen on death row in Louisiana for murder, Wednesday asked the State Supreme Court to rehear the appeal the court turned down two weeks ago.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Dec 17 (AFP) - Michael Legrand, a French citizen on death row in Louisiana for murder, Wednesday asked the State Supreme Court to rehear the appeal the court turned down two weeks ago.

Legrand, sentenced to death in 2001 for the murder of Rafael Santos in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, succeeded in October in having his nationality recognized by the French government, based on his adoption by a French national when he was 13.

Ben Cohen, a member of Legrand's defence team, said the State Supreme Court's unanimous opinion denied mitigating factors in the case, particularly Legrand's history of drug addiction and abuse as a child.

"I don't have a polite way to express my anger and frustration with the court," said Cohen. "I think it's outrageous that (the court suggests) that at age 13 he made up allegations that he was being raped to prepare for mitigation in a capital case 20 years down the line."

The failed appeal argued that Legrand should receive a new trial, this time for second-degree murder, because the first was flawed by prosecutorial error and possible misconduct.

"If we lose we'll ask the United States Supreme Court to consider the case for a variety of reasons, one of which is whether the Vienna Convention confers substantive rights to a foreign national living in the US," said Cohen.

Legrand, 30, a Louisiana native who has never set foot in France, was adopted by French national Paul Legrand, who rescued him from a state institution after the boy had been abused and molested by his stepfather and abandoned by his mother.

The elder Legrand died in 2001.

As a French citizen, Legrand is now eligible for French consular assistance, which was not available to him during his original trial.


 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news

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