FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — A Lauderhill man, already sentenced to 9 life terms for a violent doughnut shop robbery in Delray Beach is back on trial for 2 murders which took place during his two-county crime spree. The trial began Tuesday with 12 jurors and 6 alternates.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against suspected gang member James Herard for the murder 56-year-old Kiem Huynh at a Tamarac Dunkin Donuts on November 27th, 2008 and the murder of Eric Jean-Pierre. Jean-Pierre was shot in the face. Herard is accused of ordering the killing while driving with a fellow gang member.
“Poor Eric Jean Pierre was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Prosecutor Stephan Zaccor told the jury during opening statements. “As they drove by, they put a 20 gauge shot gun basically to his heart and pulled the trigger. He died there on the street, all alone, having done nothing wrong,” said Zaccor.
Huynh died after being shot in the back during the Thanksgiving Day robbery of Dunkin Donuts in 2008. Herard is also accused of taking part in the robberies of three Broward Dunkin Donuts and a 7-11.
Herard, described as the ringleader of a gang of violent criminals, was sentenced in August 2011 to nine life terms for the robbery of a Delray Beach Dunkin Donuts just one day before he allegedly shot and killed Huynh. During the Delray Beach crime, four customers were shot, two in the face. Nobody died.
He was convicted of 19 counts including multiple counts of attempted First Degree Murder.
At the time of his sentencing, his response was to laugh at one of his victims.
In this latest case, the defense attorney claims detectives intimidated Herard into make incriminating statement against himself after he allegedly implicated gang leader Jonathon Jackson, who’s also accused of taking part in the robberies.
“Right after he’s put in a room with the leader of the Crips, what does James do?” defense attorney Mitch Polay asked before the jury. “He said, ‘I did it! I’m the one who did it! I did it! Ok, I did it.'” Polay claims Herard was afraid if he implicated Jackson, he or his family would get hurt. “He’s between a rock and a hard place, because if he says I’m the one who did it, it’s not true, if he says someone else did it, he knows he’s in trouble,” Polay explained, “because there’s a hundred Crips out there and his family’s in potential jeopardy.”
Tuesday, Herard sat quietly in court during the first day of testimony.
In previous hearings, he made several outbursts and several times he barked at the judge.
If convicted he could face the death penalty.