A trial date has finally been set for a 55-year-old white man who was charged with shooting at three black men in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Authorities claim that Roland Bourgeois Jr. shot at three black men, wounding one, after he and others discussed protecting the Algiers neighborhood in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Prosecutors say that the attack was racially motivated, and Bourgeois was finally indicted five years later, the Associated Press reports.
“When (he) was advised that the man he had shot was still alive, Bourgeois referred to the injured man using a racial epithet and threatened he would kill him,” the indictment says, according to AP.
The trial has been delayed more than a dozen times over questions concerning Bourgeois’ mental fitness to participate in his own defense. U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon had indefinitely postponed the trial in August 2014.
Here is more on the case, from the New Orleans Advocate:
Details about Bourgeois’ health have remained largely under seal, though Lemmon remarked that the defendant was “physically incompetent” to stand trial before postponing the case indefinitely in August 2014.
Bourgeois, who had been free on bond since his initial arrest, was taken into custody again in August of last year, charged with a bond violation.
The month before that, a Tulane University psychiatrist had found that he was capable of standing trial, though details of that finding are sealed.
Bourgeois appeared frail and needed a cane while appearing in court shortly after he was taken back into custody. He was also hospitalized for undisclosed reasons earlier this year, which temporarily delayed the completion of his mental health evaluation.
Lemmon held the May 31 hearing to discuss the evaluation’s results behind closed doors. A forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Samuel Browning, testified via a video conference feed during a hearing that lasted more than two hours, according to the court record.
Attorneys on both sides of the case made oral arguments at the proceeding and then followed up with written briefs that have not been made public.
Investigative journalist A.C. Thompson exposed the allegations made against Bourgeois months before federal prosecutors first filed charges in the case.
The trail is now set for Nov. 26.