A Luling attorney has filed suit on behalf of a Baton Rouge woman against Gov. John Bel Edwards asking why he facilitated the pardon of her father’s convicted murderer.
Although David Martin Bacon was released in 2016, Marsha Thomas contends Edwards did not provide all requested documents related to the release, attorney David Moyer said.
An East Baton Rouge Parish jury convicted Bacon of second-degree murder for the 1988 slaying of Leroy Thomas Sr. in a botched robbery in the Monticello neighborhood of Baton Rouge. Marsha Thomas is his daughter.
“They don’t know why this man was pardoned,” Moyer said. “The family is looking for answers as to why the governor put a murderer back on the streets.”
The Thomas family made a public information request as of Aug. 9 for all documents related to Bacon’s release, he said. The governor’s office responded on Aug. 26, but Moyer said it lacked documents they knew should have been part of the record including a Jan. 9, 2017 letter by Marsha Thomas to the governor citing the state’s failure to notify the family about Bacon’s release.
The governor’s office contends it could not reach the family, which had been displaced by the flood of 2016, according to court records.
In the governor’s office response to Thomas’ records request, it states all non-exempt records would be made available to Thomas on or before Oct. 7, according to the lawsuit. Four documents were provided, but it lacked emails, correspondence, calendar entries or other files requested with granting Bacon clemency that Moyer said they know exists.
“We know it’s an incomplete response,” he said. “We want all the records related to this man being pardoned.”
Moyer said one of them was Thomas’ letter to the governor, stating, “Death was not a sentence he deserved, but his killer deserved to spend the rest of his life in jail … a life for a life.”
She added, “My family and I are serving a life sentence, and that is a sentence of lifelong pain, agony and hurt from not having my father in our lives.”
Recently contacted about the case by Thomas’ family, Moyer said he does not know why they waited on making the request. But he was told the family had tried informal channels to get the information and hit roadblocks.
“The question is why the governor’s office waited to respond and then provided an incomplete response,” Moyer said.
Moyer said they received four documents, which constituted “an incomplete response” and filed the lawsuit on Oct. 9.
Edwards commuted Bacon’s sentence from life without parole to a 99-year prison term. Bacon, who had served 27 years, was released on Dec. 19, 2016 on unanimous recommendation from the Louisiana Pardon-Parole Board, favorable reviews from prison staff and his 15 years of working as prison trustee.
At his trial in 1989, Bacon, then 24, admitted to firing a sawed-shotgun at Thomas when his stepfather, Barney Ray Guy, was wounded while trying to rob the Thomas family, but maintained he didn’t intend to kill him. Bacon, Guy and a third co-conspirator, Jerry Williamson, apparently intended to rob Thomas, a 34-year-old Exxon refinery worker, after confusing his white Oldsmobile with a similar car driven by a reputed cocaine dealer, according to court documents.