Natchitoches judge to decide what parish jurors will come from in fatal baby burning case

Crime

NATCHITOCHES, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A judge is considering where jurors will come from in the trial of a Natchitoches woman accused of burning her infant son to death.

Hanna Nicole Barker, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of six-month-old Levi Cole Ellerbe. Barker’s girlfriend, 27-year-old Felicia Smith, is also charged with first-degree murder in the child’s death.

Hanna Nicole Barker, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the burning death of her infant son in July 2018. (Photo: Natchitoches Police Department)

Prosecutors say Barker and Smith were in a relationship, and that Barker asked Smith to kill Levi and then waited a few hours before calling 911 to report that her son had been kidnapped. Smith is accused of dumping Levi in a ditch, coating him in gasoline and setting him ablaze before heading off to work on the night of July 17, 2018. Levi was found a few hours later with severe burns covering 90% of his body. He died the next day in a Shreveport hospital.

Felicia Smith, 27, is charged with first-degree murder in the burning death of 6-month-old Levi Cole Ellerbe of Natchitoches. (Source: Natchitoches Police Department)

Barker’s trial will be held in Natchitoches Parish, but her defense attorney Dhu Thompson and Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington agreed earlier this month to the use of outside jurors due to local publicity in the case. In court Monday, both sides submitted a list of parishes they would prefer those jurors to come from.

10th Judicial District Court Judge Desiree Dyess said she will review the lists and reach out to judges in those parishes to find one that will be able to accommodate them for jury selection. A ruling is expected on December 19.

Louisiana has said it’s seeking the death penalty for Barker. Her trial date will be set once it’s determined from where the jurors will be selected.

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