An alleged KKK member from Bogalusa is entitled to retrieve his guns, ammunition and black robe and hood that were seized during a murder investigation last year, a state judge ruled Monday in Covington.
But the judge said he would not enforce his ruling until an appeal by the district attorney's office could be heard.
In February, a St. Tammany Parish grand jury declined to charge Random Hines, 28, with obstruction of justice in the killing of an Oklahoma woman who reportedly tried to back out of a Ku Klux Klan initiation last year.
Raymond "Chuck" Foster, the alleged imperial wizard of the Bogalusa Sons of Dixie Knights, is charged with second-degree murder in Cynthia Lynch's death and is awaiting trial. Authorities have said Lynch was killed after she told Foster, 44, that she wanted to return home to Oklahoma.
Assistant District Attorney Julie Knight on Monday argued that Hines' guns should not be released until the state analyzed them, but Judge Reginald "Reggie" Badeaux said that as Hines has no prior convictions and no pending charges, he is entitled to his weapons -- a black Hi-Point .45-caliber handgun with extra magazines; an M-44 7.62- by-54 mm rifle with bayonet; a Ruger .22-caliber rifle with magazines; and a Remington .22-caliber semiautomatic with a scope.
Badeaux also granted the release of his robe, his wallet that included his identification and Social Security card, and some ammunition.
"The way I see it is Mr. Hines is a U.S. citizen with no prior convictions, no charges pending against him, and he wants his guns," Badeaux said when making his ruling. "I just can't see the relevance his guns would have on someone else's case."
The judge declined to release Hines' Sony laptop with black case, as Knight said she wanted time for the state to analyze it for any possible communications between Lynch and Bogalusa Sons of Dixie Knights members. Knight argued that the district attorney's office "has a right to review the evidence," and that the guns should not be released until the office has executed that right.
Knight said she will file an appeal of Badeaux's decision, and Badeaux then said the evidence would remain in the state's custody until the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal rules on that motion. Knight said she would write that motion for appeal within the next week.
Knight insisted Monday that Hines ran the Bogalusa Sons of Dixie Knights along with Foster, and that he was in fact an "imperial knight hawk," in charge of its guns and ammunition.
Hines came into court Monday without an attorney and argued he had a right to his property.
Danielle Jones, 24, accompanied him to court. Jones pleaded guilty in June to being an accessory after the fact in Lynch's killing.
Badeaux sentenced her to a year in prison with credit for time served. As she'd been in jail since her Nov. 11 arrest, Jones qualified for immediate release due to good behavior.
On April 30, Frank Stafford, 21, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, and Badeaux sentenced him to four years in prison. Obstruction of justice carries a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Shane Foster, 21, Chuck Foster's son, also is facing an obstruction of justice charge in Lynch's death. But on April 21, Badeaux found Shane Foster incompetent to stand trial. He was ordered to get tutoring from a court-appointed forensic coordinator in the St. Tammany Parish jail in an effort to restore his competency and make him ready for trial.
Shane Foster does not have a factual understanding of the law or its procedures, according to expert testimony. He is scheduled for a hearing today, at which time Badeaux likely will reassess that mental competency.
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