Bourbon St. shooting suspect pleads not guilty

AP News
Posted: Aug 27, 2014 10:09 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Bourbon Street shooting suspect pleaded not guilty Wednesday on two charges related to the June 29 gunfight in the French Quarter that fatally wounded one person and injured nine others. Times-Picayune reports ( ) Trung Le, of Belle Chasse, entered his plea to charges of manslaughter and attempted second-degree murder. The 21-year-old Le originally was arrested July 4 and booked on one count of first-degree murder and nine counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Last week, a grand jury indicted Le but only on the lesser charges. Le's attorney has contended that his client acted in self-defense when he fired his weapon.

A wounded friend testified that Le likely saved his life after a still-unidentified man pointed a pistol at their group.

"I still feel like he's a hero, to this day. He's wearing that nasty orange jumpsuit he shouldn't be wearing," said Robert Benvenuti, referring to his friend's Orleans Parish Prison attire. "He doesn't deserve this."

Benvenuti was shot four times but survived wounds to his leg, foot and buttocks.

Wednesday's testimony from three friends marked the first public show of support for Le by anyone present at the gunfight, which provoked local outrage and drew international attention because it took place in an area frequented by tourists. New Orleans police said Le was one of two men who opened fire toward each other. The second suspected gunman has not been arrested.

The lengthy hearing produced one outcome that Le's attorney, Martin Regan, hailed as a victory: Judge Dennis Waldron ordered police and prosecutors to turn over by Sept. 4 any video surveillance evidence collected in the case, which Regan says could show Le shot in self-defense.

"There is a video that shows everything that happened," Regan told Waldron, who presided over the hearing in Criminal District Court. "I've not seen it, but I know it exists and it's in the possession of the New Orleans Police Department."

"There is no such film," countered Orleans Parish assistant district attorney Laura Rodrigue, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Regan also sought to reduce Le's $1.5 million bond. The judge postponed a decision on that until Sept. 11.


Information from: The Times-Picayune,