On the night of October 4, 2023, Raymond Laugand was released after over 27 years of wrongful incarceration. Mr. Laugand was wrongfully convicted of a second-degree murder in New Orleans, Louisiana. On September 29, 2023, a Judge vacated Mr. Laugand’s conviction and life sentence and ordered that he be given a new trial because the State failed to turn over material, exculpatory evidence that supported Mr. Laugand's innocence. If the State had turned over this evidence nearly three decades ago to Mr. Laugand, he would not have lost 27 years of his life to prison. The same Judge also set a bond for Mr. Laugand permitting him to bond out.
On March 16, 1996, Keith Matthews, a young father, was shot and killed in a housing project courtyard. Mr. Matthews was shot by a masked gunman who arrived and fled the scene in a distinctive green rental car.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Laugand, in the hours after the crime, multiple witnesses identified the men responsible to police—three men who were completely unrelated to Mr. Laugand. In the following days, police investigated these three suspects and learned that they had committed a very similar shooting just a few days before using the same green car, only a couple blocks away from the scene of Mr. Matthews’ death. Police eventually arrested one of these men (for an unrelated crime) in the rental car after a police chase. Despite all of this evidence pointing to the culpability of other people for Mr. Matthew's murder, police abruptly abandoned this line of investigation without any explanation.
45 days after the crime, witnesses came forward and claimed that Mr. Laugand committed the crime. These witnesses gave contradictory and changing accounts of what they allegedly saw on the day of the crime. Because Mr. Laugand was never provided their inconsistent identification and statements, Mr. Laugand was not able to effectively confront the witnesses against him about their conflicting and changing stories. The lead detective lied claiming witnesses had identified Mr. Laugand as the perpetrator on the night of the crime when they did not do so. Mr. Laguand is innocent and was wrongfully convicted.
Mr. Laugand is eager to reunite with family and friends, but he is most eager to finally clear his name. For nearly 30 years he has been proclaiming his innocence and he will now get the opportunity to do so. Mr. Laugand emerged from prison with little more than a pen and some shoelaces. He needs your help to rebuild his life.