EDGARD, La. — A man convicted of killing two Louisiana sheriff's deputies during a bloody gun battle showed little reaction Sunday as a jury decided he should receive the death penalty, a newspaper reported.
The decision came two days after Kyle Joekel was convicted at trial in St. John the Baptist Parish, The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate reported.
Jurors found 35-year-old Joekel guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. Deputies Brandon Nielsen and Jeremy Triche were killed during a 2012 shootout at a trailer park in Laplace, a suburb west of New Orleans.
An early morning assault on another deputy, Michael Scott Boyington, led to the deadly shootout.
Prosecutors said Joekel stood over Triche with an AK-47 and shot him at close range. Defense attorneys argued that another man — Brian Smith, who is being held in a mental hospital and has been deemed incompetent for trial — fired the shots.
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Joekel and Smith were members of the anti-government extremist group Sovereign Citizens, according to prosecutors.
Joekel had been a fugitive wanted by law enforcement in Nebraska prior to his arrest.
On Aug. 21, 2011, Joekel, a 2002 Freeman High School graduate, was kicked out of the Grand Ave Bar in Barneston for making threats against other patrons and law enforcement.
He and another man led police on a high speed chase in his pickup that ended when his truck hit two cars in Oketo, Kan., pushing one into a house. Joekel escaped on foot and was later thought to have been helped back into Beatrice that night.
A few days later, on Aug. 24, police surrounded a home in the 1800 block of Monroe St. where they believed Joekel to be hiding. Beatrice Police’s SWAT team searched the home but Joekel was nowhere to be found.
Four days later, a white Buick LeSabre was stolen from the 1500 block of Hoyt St. That vehicle was later found in Adams, Tenn., when police searched a trailer home and a man believed to be Joekel escaped on foot once more in November 2011.