There was no shortage of emotions when court met Friday in a hearing for convicted murderer, Aaron George Hauser.
During witness testimony called by the defense, the families of Hauser’s victims became visibly upset.
The people who spoke on Hauser’s behalf were also emotional.
Exchanges between a witness on the stand and the victims’ family left Judge Kerry Anderson no choice but to reprimand his emotionally charged courtroom.
Both attorneys on the case, prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Richard Morton and defense Laketha Holmes, showed the utmost respect for each other and the delicate situation unfolding in the courtroom.
Hauser was convicted of the 1983 murder of his stepmother, Joan Hauser, and his 17 year-old step brother John J. Leidig.
Hauser’s case is back in court thanks to new legislation concerning life sentences. Earlier this year, Governor John Bel Edwards signed legislation that allows those who received a life sentence while under the age of 18 to potentially be granted parole eligibility.
Hauser was 17 at the time of the murders. He pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.
Expert witness Louis Lowery and Terry Lane testified about the psychology behind a 17 year-old’s brain.
Lowery is a licensed professional counselor who spoke on the underdevelopment of an adolescent mind. “Adolescents operate impulsively – emotional vs. intellectual,” he said.
Terry Lane is a clinical social worker who spoke on the effects of trauma on the adolescent brain.
He also introduced new information about Hauser being a victim of alleged sexual assault while at the Naval Academy.
Lane testified that such a trauma at a young age, like 17, would dramatically distort a person's perception of the world.
The defense called three character witness before having Hauser take the stand himself.
Thomas Roller, a former prison mate of Hauser, talked about during their time at Angola together. Roller described Hauser as a model prisoner and someone he looked up to.
Lori and Robert Peters of Whitney, Texas both took the stand to share that if Hauser is eventually granted parole, he has a home with them in Texas. They also spoke to his rehabilitation during his incarceration.
Hauser then spoke on his own behalf. He shared his remorse for his actions, as the family of his victims cried quietly in the audience.
“I’m so sorry.” he said, sitting before the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and shackles.
The hearings on this case will continue with more defense testimony in August.
The original murder case of Joan and John Leidig is one that rocked the community at the time. That notion is represented in the number of citizens who turned out to listen to the proceedings and support the families.