Prosecutors have asked a state judge to set an execution date for Todd
Wessinger after a federal judge denied his bid for a new trial or sentencing in
the 1995 slaying of 2 employees at the now-closed Calendar's Restaurant.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday the
victims' families have endured "17 years of heartache."
"I can only imagine the pain and suffering the families are going through," he
said. "Hopefully we'll eventually come to a successful conclusion in the near
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/waeXMJ ) Wessinger's appellate attorneys
are expected to appeal U.S. District Judge James Brady's Feb. 22 ruling to the
5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Wessinger's appellate attorneys are expected to appeal U.S. District Judge
James Brady's Feb. 22 ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New
"There's still a lot of hurdles to overcome," said John Sinquefield, who
prosecuted Wessinger. He called Brady's decision a "big step."
Brady rejected a dozen claims raised by Wessinger, including an allegation that
his trial attorneys provided ineffective assistance during jury selection and
the guilt and penalty phases of his 1997 trial in Baton Rouge.
Brady, who called the state's evidence against Wessinger in the guilt phase
"overwhelming," said Wessinger faults his attorneys' penalty phase preparation
for not investigating further into his childhood and upbringing.
Wessinger contends such a probe would have led to evidence of a physically and
mentally abusive childhood, possible mental defects and an alienation from
society that led him to feel he did not belong.
Brady said Wessinger's contentions were contradicted by the defense's own
"In short, it is not the quality or thoroughness of the investigation Wessinger
is attacking. He essentially does not like the way his story was spun for the
jury," the judge wrote in a 77-page decision. "This is not ineffective
Wessinger, a former dishwasher, was convicted and sentenced to die by lethal
injection for fatally shooting Stephanie Guzzardo, 27, and David Breakwell, 46,
at the Perkins Road restaurant on Nov. 19, 1995.
Wessinger is now 44.
(source: Associated Press)