The Baton Rouge man who was found guilty of first-degree murder in the September 2017 killing that left two Black men dead searched the internet for topics like White nationalism, genocide, Nazi propaganda and gun silencers, an FBI agent testified days before the man was found guilty by a jury on Monday.
A Baton Rouge jury found 27-year-old Kenneth Gleason guilty of first-degree murder on April 26, more than three years after he set out on a four-day killing spree that left two Black men dead, The Advocate reported.
Donald Smart, 49, and Bruce Cofield, 59, lost their lives to what prosecutors called Gleason’s “reign of terror.” The spree began on Sept 11, 2017, when Gleason fired three shots through the front door of the home of the only Black family that lived on his block of the Hickory Ridge subdivision. The next day, Gleason searched the internet for “aggravated assault on property,” special agent Jeff Methvin testified on Wednesday prior to the conviction.
On the night of Sept. 12, 2017, Gleason fatally shot Cofield, a homeless man sitting at a bus stop. The following morning he searched the internet for “best Nazi generals.”
Then on Sept. 14, he gunned down Smart as he walked down the street in the direction of Louisiana State University’s campus while on the way to his shift as a dishwasher at Louie’s Cafe. In the morning, Gleason spent time searching the internet for serial killers and for reports of the killing he carried out the night prior.
Gleason was detained on Sept. 16 and booked three days later.
He was charged with first-degree murder in Smart’s killing, second-degree murder in Cofield’s death, and two counts of attempted second-degree murder in the non-fatal shooting into the home of the Black family that lived on his block.
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Fulton noted that all of Gleason’s victims were Black. “The timing of these searches is very important,” she said.
Prosecutor Dana Cummings said in her closing arguments that Gleason was “hunting Black men” during the killing spree. Gleason has not been charged with a hate crime.
Phone records placed Gleason in proximity of all three shootings, as did video evidence of his car. DNA was also found on shell casings at the scenes of the crimes.
Twelve jurors returned the guilty verdict in the death of Smart on Monday after just 30 minutes of deliberation. Gleason will be sentenced to life in prison on August 26, 2021.