Moral Low Ground


Unarmed New Orleans Teen Marshall Coulter Shot by Marigny Homeowner Merritt Landry

Merritt Landry

Merritt Landry

A New Orleans homeowner who shot and critically wounded an unarmed teenager who he thought was trying to break into his house on Friday has been arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports 14-year-old Marshall Coulter, who is black, was shot in the head at around 2:00 am on Friday on property belonging to 33-year-old city building inspector Merritt Landry, who is white.

According to a New Orleans Police Department arrest warrant, Landry, who lives in the 700 block of Mandeville Street in the Marigny, shot Coulter from a distance of 30 feet (nine meters) after the teen climbed over his fence and trespassed onto his property. Coulter was near Landry’s vehicle when he was shot. Landry told police that Coulter appeared to “reach for something,” prompting him to shoot the teen.

NOPD confirmed that Coulter was unarmed and said that he posed no “imminent threat” when Landry shot him. The homeowner was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. NOPD Detective Nicholas Williams claims an unidentified witness provided a different account of the incident than what Landry recounted, although Williams would not say how their stories differed. The detective did say that Coulter was not trying to enter Landry’s house.

According to Coulter’s family, the teen can no longer move the left side of his body. Doctors informed them that if he survives it is likely that he would be severely brain damaged.

Coulter’s brother, 23-year-old David Coulter, admitted that Marshall is a “professional thief,” but insisted he would never use or even carry a gun.

“He would steal– he was a professional thief, sure,” David Coulter told the Times-Picayune. “But he would never pick up a gun, not in a million years. He was too scared to aim a gun at the grass, let alone aim it at a person. No way. Before he’ll ever pick up a gun, he’ll be your friend first.”

David questions why Landry felt he had no choice but to shoot his brother.

“He’s still a little boy,” he said. “Who pulls a trigger on a 14-year-old? What if it was your little brother or your sister? How would you feel?”

David Coulter added that Marshall was awaiting trial for “stealing stuff.”

Landry’s friends and neighbors, some of whom pointed out that the shooter has a pregnant wife and baby daughter, justifiably shot Coulter, who could very well have been trying to break into his home.

“Merritt is a friend. I can’t blame him one bit,” neighborhood resident Charles Hazouri told the Times-Picayune. “He’s got a family. You’ve got to protect your own.”

“I’m a permit holder and a gun owner myself. You’ve got to stand up for your family,” Hazouri added.

Another neighbor said that he witnessed two black teens cruising the area on bikes and looking at different houses hours before the shooting occurred.

“I thought about calling the cops, but the last thing I want to do is racially profile a little kid who’s just biking,” the white neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Times-Picayune.

Hazouri said he hopes the case does not “turn out to be another Florida deal,” a reference to the Trayvon Martin shooting. In February 2012 Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old walking from a convenience store to his father’s home in a gated Sanford, Florida community, was approached by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. A confrontation ensued and Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder; a jury, which found he acted in self-defense, recently acquitted him of the murder charge as well as of the lesser crime of manslaughter in a highly polarizing verdict that resulted in dozens of demonstrations across the United States.

Like Florida, Louisiana also has a “very strong” ‘stand your ground’ law that Landry could invoke in his defense, legal experts said.

“You have no duty whatsoever to retreat and the jury is not even permitted to consider the possibility of retreat,” Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino told WWLTV. “It’s really going to boil down to whether this shooting was done in self-defense.”

David Coulter bristled at comparisons between his brother’s and Trayvon Martin’s shootings.

“That’s a different story. That was Trayvon, this is Marshall,” he told the Times-Picayune. “This is a whole different world. This is my little brother’s life on the line– I don’t care about anything else.”

Coulter added that he wants to see Landry imprisoned for shooting Marshall.

“I want to see a prosecution, not somebody who gets out after a couple of years,” he told the Times-Picayune. “I want to see the system do its job for once.”

Landry posted a $100,000 property bond and was released from jail on Friday.

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  1. PJJuly 30, 2013 at 4:42 amReply

    Wait, he was charged with second degree murder but the kid is still alive? Something doesmt make sense.

    • Brett WilkinsJuly 30, 2013 at 10:07 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks for your eagle eye in catching that pretty embarrassing error. It clearly should have read “attempted murder” and now does, thanks to you.

  2. ChrissJuly 30, 2013 at 10:33 amReply

    Really, shooting the gun up in the air, Levesque???? You’ve been listening to Joe Biden too much.
    A Washington man who fired his shotgun into the air to scare away alleged car prowlers pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, citing Vice President Joe Biden’s questionable gun advice as the reason he took that specific action.

    Jeffery Barton, 52, of Vancouver, Wash., is charged with one count of illegal aiming or discharging a firearm. He was arraigned in Clark County Court on Wednesday.

    Next option please, sir because we all know the NOPD won’t make it in time.

  3. John TaurusAugust 22, 2013 at 4:58 amReply

    Black teenagers kill people all the time. It was 2 AM, dark, and an intruder is in your back yard. You can’t tell his/her age….it is DARK. They move, you shoot. Common sense. Profiling is simply using your common sense to predict what a person is going to do. Blacks commit, according to the FBI, 8 of every 10 violent crimes. It would be foolish not to take that into account when encountering a Black person. Blacks will have to change their image, White people cannot do it for them. We cannot pet all tigers equally. Not all tigers are tame.

  4. CelenaSeptember 29, 2013 at 11:07 pmReply

    John Taurus that was well said

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