Prosecutors on Monday dropped a murder charge against the man accused of shooting a guest after a fight broke out over food at a North Miami Beach baptism party.
Louiskenson Avril, 26, had been charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Wilson Alexis, 21. The killing — at a gathering meant to celebrate the baptism of a 5-month-old baby boy — drew widespread media attention back in January 2014.
But conflicting versions of what happened that night and credibility woes concerns of some witnesses doomed the prosecution.
“We’re thankful that after a thorough and careful review of the evidence, the state did exactly what they were supposed to do and dismiss the case,” said Avril’s defense attorney, Jonathan Meltz.
Avril, who works as a tax preparer, is a new father who had never been in trouble with the law. The North Miami resident had insisted that he was innocent.
The gathering, hosted by friends of mother Guetide Brise, was meant for only about 30 people. But the child’s godfather advertised the party on social media and over 100 people unexpectedly showed up to the home on the 15800 block of Northeast 15th Avenue.
With not enough paper plates in which to serve food, hungry guests began grumbling. A woman tried grabbing a bowl from the kitchen to serve food. An argument ensued – and somebody slapped one of Brise’s friends, according to a police report.
The scrum between the women continued outside of the house. Police said Alexis tried breaking up the fight. The gunman appeared and fired at least three bullets, hitting Alexis in the chest, mortally wounding him.
“It was supposed to be a happy, joyous event and it turned into a tragedy that ended in the death of an innocent man,” Meltz said.
Untangling what happened that night what was always difficult. Many of the eyewitnesses found by detectives did not see the actual shooting, or gave conflicting versions of how the whole event unfolded.
One witness provided police a Facebook photo of Avril, but she did not actually see the shooting. A bystander’s cell-phone video captured a portion of the fight and shooting outside, but it’s difficult to discern identities on the video.
According to North Miami Beach police, two eye-witnesses initially identified Avril as the gunman. But in depositions, they revealed they had earlier picked out other men included in earlier police photo lineups. A third eyewitness to the shooting never picked out Avril from a lineup.