Jury selection delayed in Hannah Barker trial

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Juanice Gray | Editor

Jury selection has been postponed in the Hannah Barker first-degree murder case of her infant son, Levi Ellerbe. In an order signed Aug. 9, the Jury Commission of St. Landry Parish was authorized to draw a lot of 800 names, issue subpoenas and provide a juror questionnaire to the potential jurors. According to court records, selection was to have begun Monday, Sept. 27.

This article published in the Sept. 30, 2021, print edition
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Defense council, Dhu Thompson, entered a motion Aug. 12 for continuance of trial and pretrial deadlines. The Court continued the jury trial until April 25, 2022, and set the pretrial date for March 7, 2022, at 1 p.m.

Thompson also entered the following:

•Motion for transcripts and reports of sanity commission

•Motion for bill of particulars

•Motion to reduce bond

On the other motions, Judge Desiree Dyess issued an order that the motions would be heard Sept. 9, including the State showing cause why bond should not be granted. That information has yet to be released to the public.

There have been 18 court events associated with this case since September 2018.

The State is seeking the death penalty. In July, Felicia Marie-Nicole Smith pleaded guilty to charges related to her part in Baby Levi’s death. Smith pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter with a sentence of 40 years; one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder with a sentence of 30 years; and one count of cruelty to a juvenile under the age of 8 with a sentence of 10 years, for a total of 80 years.

Felicia Smith

Prosecuting Attorney Cliff Strider, who is also on the team prosecuting Barker, described the relationship between Smith and Barker as romantic and friendly. He said Barker wanted the child dead and Barker and Smith established the plan that led to Levi’s death. Smith said “yes” when Dyess asked her if she agreed with Strider’s statements.

As part of her plea agreement, Smith agreed to testify against Barker.

Levi Cole Ellerbe

When Baby Levi was only 6 months, 17 days old, on July 18, 2018, he died from being set on fire in a ditch on Breda Avenue. The fire department found the baby the next day. He had second and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body. Smith is believed to be the one who put Levi in the ditch and set him on fire.