JUSTICE DENIED: THE BRETT WITTNER STORY
Investigative review and what’s on the horizon
by Raquel Okyay, TLB Contributing Writer & TLBTV Show Host
This is the story of an unwavering mother in a 6-year crusade to reopen the unsolved shooting death of her teenage son, who has recently engaged a pro-bono investigative firm to independently conduct a review of this shocking crime.
“We put people on notice,” said Mark Harper, founder of Mja Inc. Investigations. “Once we are involved, we don’t stop until its completed.” Mja is a missing persons and unsolved crimes organization with offices in New York and Indiana. Harper said his group have been successful in other unsolved matters in Louisiana, and they are hoping to do the same in this potential homicide case.
In early 2012 Brett Tylor Wittner was a healthy, happy, rambunctious 14-year-old when he was fatally shot in the back of the head at a sleep over party in the small town of Bogalusa, Louisiana.
“I have heart-wrenching grief that has left me a shell of the person I was,” said Donna L. Wittner, a native Louisianan, a wife, and mother of the victim. “I have to see my family suffer with grief over Brett’s death each day – he was very much loved and wanted.”
A review of witness statements indicates that just before midnight on Friday, Feb. 24, 2012, eight teens piled into a Grand Marquis automobile along with two adults, to commute 45 minutes for an impromptu, unsupervised party at the home of Rodney “Reggie” E. Griffith, Jr. and his girlfriend April Galey.
According to Washington Parish Sheriff Office (WPSO) records, a 911 call was placed by Galey at 6:38 a.m. the next morning, when she reported to the operator that a young man was playing with one of her shotguns and that he shot himself accidently. She also advised that the teen was still breathing.
Emergency services were dispatched and arrived within minutes to the Griffith home. Shortly after 7:00 a.m. the fire department cleared the scene, and Brett was taken by ambulance to Louisiana State University Medical Center in Bogalusa.
Sheriff office records indicate that at 7:31 a.m. Lt. Tom Anderson, the assigned officer on the scene, reported to WPSO that it was not a shot gun wound, as Galey had previously stated in the 911 call, but a .22 long rifle round to the back of the head.
Wittner said that at around 8:30 a.m. that morning, a St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Deputy arrived at her home to inform the Wittner family that Brett had been shot in the back of the head, was still breathing and in route to University Hospital in New Orleans. Shortly thereafter, she said she was notified by the ambulance driver that Brett was diverted to St. Tammany Parish Hospital because he was going into cardiac arrest. Brett was later transported to University Hospital and died two days later after he was taken off life support. Brett’s organs were donated to Louisiana Organ to help others.
After arriving at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, Wittner said she and her husband were informed by neurosurgeon Dr. Mohammad Almubaslat [Pictured left], that he disagreed with the sheriff deputy’s assertion that the shooting was self-inflicted. “He said that with the entry angle and projection of the bullet, there is no way Brett could have pulled the trigger even if he was a contortionist.”
That did not stop WPSO from creating a false narrative in their reports and to the press. In numerous local media sources immediately following the incident and for months thereafter, Chief Criminal Deputy Scott Blair made repeated false claims. For example; Blair reported to the Daily News in Bogalusa that Brett shot himself in the temple and he gave The Heat Magazine an inaccurate gunpowder residue result. “The fix was in,” said Wittner. “We were never questioned by officials – they didn’t want to know the truth.”
Vincent A. Molino, a Senior Piping Designer in computer software and friend of the Wittner family, said by using the coroner’s report measurements of entry and exit wounds, a model of the victim, the size in centimeters of the .22 caliber rifle and a computer drafting program, he recreated the incident in a 3D video model. “When I put the model of Donna’s boy and the gun, and the angle of the trajectory of the wounds, it’s not just 99 percent impossible, it is 100 percent impossible to be self-inflicted because the gun was in such a backward and upward parallel position behind him.” View 3D model showing shot angles, plus additional evidence of murder cover up here:
Bogalusa Coroner Roger Casama, M.D. issued a Death Certificate in May 2012. “The primary finding at autopsy is a contact gunshot wound to the back of the right head.” The report also stated, “According to the measurements of the reported weapon, this could be self-inflicted.” Brett’s mother, Donna, who is a drafting technician, did not find the report credible and neither did Terry M. King, member of Concerned Citizens for St. Tammany, a local organization that champions transparent and good governance.
“There isn’t much I can say about what occurred on Brett’s report, but I do know that the coroner is the most corrupt bastard in the country,” said King. “I have absolutely no faith in the work that agency does, period.”
Both St. Tammany and Washington Parishes are under the auspices of the 22nd Judicial Circuit, its District Attorney Warren Montgomery and the Coroner’s offices. Its disgraced former District Attorney Walter P. Reed [Pictured left]was convicted by a federal jury in May 2016 on 18 of 19 counts of political corruption.
“No one ever subjected any of the coroner’s observations to an investigation,” said King. “The assistant coroner and the pathologist still work there, and I’m disgusted that no one wants to do anything.” He said part of the problem is a lack of resources at the current district attorney’s office to investigate previous cases. “However, I am convinced that Donna is telling the truth and that the coroner reports are compromised.”
District Attorney Warren Montgomery had initially hired two retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to investigate suspicious cases under the former convicted DA, including the unsolved shooting death of Brett, said Wittner. After investigators looked at the case files, she said Montgomery told her that he would have the coroner change its finding to a possible homicide, but that never happened, she said. “It is apparent that the outside investigators, the current DA, the former DA and WPSO failed to do their jobs.”
In July 2012, Lee Dresselhaus, who is an investigator at the private investigation firm, The Northshore Group, completed an independent report and finding based on a review of WPSO reports, the pathologist report, crime scene photos, the first responders report, a crime lab result and witness statements.
Dresselhaus, who is a retired detective with over 20 years of law enforcement experience, said the police acted “horrendously negligent”. Evidence was ignored, disregarded or undiscovered. Witness statements contained numerous contradictions and outright falsehoods. He said two spent shell casings were found, yet only one bullet was accounted for – the bullet that killed Brett Wittner.
The report revealed that a gunshot residue test was issued to just one witness. The result was an unspecified “indeterminate” one. WPSO later erroneously informed the DA’s office and the press that the gun shot residue result was “negative”. Dresselhaus said the facts support the conclusion that someone shot Brett either accidentally or with malice. “Brett was a victim of a potential homicide.”
In the exhaustive investigative report, he concluded, “This shooting did not occur the way the officially sanctioned police reports say it did. It is also my contention that the conclusions of the Sheriff’s office investigators as well as the District Attorney’s office that Brett Wittner [Pictured below] shot himself behind his right ear with a .22 caliber Henry repeating rifle are in error.”
THE COVER UP
Wittner said justice for her son’s life was denied by the officials who covered-up for the shooter, the homeowner, his paramour, her children and their families who have close familial and community ties to WPSO and the district attorney’s office. “In fact, the homeowner still works as a mail-box deputy sheriff at WPSO.” Law enforcement officials had little or no desire to find out what truly happened at the sleep over party, she said. “We were re-victimized by those that swore to uphold the law,” she added. “The pattern when it comes to a political figure or a police officer with an authoritative position, is that they cover up for each other.”
A former sheriff deputy with WPSO, who requested his identity be withheld for fear of retaliation, said that he was employed at WPSO as a sheriff deputy during the time of the investigation into the shooting death of Brett Wittner. He said he has seen firsthand the nepotism, favoritism and cover up that exists inside the sheriff’s office.
“I don’t believe there was a thorough investigation,” said the retired sheriff deputy with 20-plus years law enforcement experience. “They closed the case in lightning speed.” He said he was 100 percent sure that WPSO was hiding something to protect the “good-ole boys,” the officials with the political power. “I have lived here all my life – it has always been this way.”
Donna Wittner said that she relies on her faith in God’s judgement, her loving husband Dave, family and friends to keep her moving along, but she will never give up on finding justice for her son, Brett. “The only people to ever suffer any consequences is Brett and his family,” she said. “Brett got the death penalty and we were sentenced to a lifetime of grief and loss.”
TLB Editors note:
You can help the Wittner family by SHARING THIS STORY to your friends and family, and they in turn theirs. You can put The Heat on “the good ‘ol boys” to get this tragic mess cleaned up… the more people that know, the less they can scurry away like a swamp rat in the night.
When Justice is Served, then and only then, can his family and Brett truly Rest in Peace.
About Raquel Okyay
Raquel Okyay is a political columnist and commentator. She writes about Second Amendment rights, family rights, and government corruption. She is published at various locations includingHumanEvents,Townhall, Ammoland, Rockland County Times, the Daily Surge and The Liberty Beacon.
Raquel is Director of Radio Programming at WINN World Integrity News Network. She also produces and hosts weekly blog talk radio programs: Rocky & The Gonz Podcast and Nightmare on CPS Street.
In addition, Raquel host her own weekly TV show “In The Crosshairs” on The Liberty Beacon network. (TLBTV)
Raquel hails from New York City and is a Criminal Justice graduatefrom St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens. She ran for NYC council in 2005 under the Conservative Party banner. She is founder and former organizer of Ulster/Orange Tea Party.
Currently, Raquel is Treasurer of the Reform Party of Florida. She is a volunteer with the statewide group “Why Dads Matter”, and resides in the Tampa Bay area with her husband and two children.
Raquel’s upcoming non-fiction book “The Progression of the New York SAFE Act” will be published soon.
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