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Indefinite trial delay in Katrina shooting case because of man's health problems

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NEW ORLEANS — Health problems have led to an indefinite trial delay for a man facing charges in what federal prosecutors say were racially motivated shootings following Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon granted the delay Monday in the case of Roland Bourgeois Jr.

Bourgeois' attorneys sought the delay. Prosecutors agreed after a doctor determined that Bourgeois is physically unable to attend a trial or help his defense lawyers. Lemmon's order didn't detail the health problems, but past proceedings have included discussions of his liver disease.

Monday's order included a requirement that Bourgeois' lawyers provide twice-a-year updates on his condition.

Prosecutors say the 51-year-old Bourgeois, who is white, wounded at least one of the three black men he shot at following the 2005 storm. He has pleaded not guilty. Bourgeois lived in Columbia, Mississippi, at the time of his indictment in 2010.

The indictment says Bourgeois discussed shooting black people and defending the city's Algiers Point neighborhood from "outsiders" after the 2005 storm. It accused him of bragging that he "got" one after the shooting, then retrieving a bloody baseball cap belonging to one of the victims.

Bourgeois is charged with five criminal counts: conspiracy, violation of civil rights, illegal discharge of a firearm, "corruptly persuading" a witness to lie about the shooting and making false statements.

The case against Bourgeois is one of several probes of post-Katrina violence that the Justice Department launched in the years after Katrina. Most of the cases focused on actions by New Orleans police officers.

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