LIVINGSTON, La. — A Prairieville man, Blayson Fife, has been found guilty of murder, this time by a unanimous jury. Fife was tried for the second time for murder thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that mandates unanimous verdicts for serious crimes.
Fife, 23, was granted a retrial for a 2017 murder in Walker. Back then, Fife, who was 18, was accused of breaking into a Walker home allegedly to steal cash and weapons. However, the burglary quickly turned into a murder.
Rick McBride, a 61–year-old man, was shot to death inside his Walker home in July 2017.
Fife was arrested and indicted on a first-degree murder charge. In 2019, a Livingston Parish jury found Fife, who was 20 then, guilty of second-degree murder for McBride’s death. The jury’s vote came down to 10-2 in 2019. Fife was sentenced to life in prison without the benefit of parole.
But Fife would get a second chance at the same trial because the jury’s vote was not unanimous, something the Supreme Court now requires.
Fife’s conviction and sentence were later rescinded following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling that the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right to an impartial trial, requires that jurors be unanimous to convict in serious criminal cases.
At the time of the decision, Louisiana and Oregon were the only two states that did not already require unanimous verdicts for criminal convictions.
A jury was seated by Wednesday, March 8th in the retrial and trial started later that day. Judge Sledge recessed court for the weekend and trial resumed Monday, March 13th. By about 4:30pm, a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict for second-degree murder.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 27th but it’s more of a formality as second-degree murder in Louisiana carries a mandatory life in prison sentence without the benefit of parole.