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The 2013 Investigator of the year was awarded to Mike Valle, Special Agent with the New Orleans ATF Field Office.
On November 10, 2004, at 3:45 a.m. a fire occurs at 1005 Tallow Tree Lane, Harvey, Louisiana. The fire was investigated by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and Fire Department and determined to be Arson/Homicide.
Autopsies revealed that Grandmother Janice Carto died as a result of the fire and 10 stab wounds.Janice's 17-year-old daughter Cynthia Carto died prior to the fire as a result of being stabbed 21 times.Cynthia's 18-month-old daughter Cyanna Carto died as a result of the fire.Janice's 11-year-old son Cleveland McGinnis died as a result of the fire but was also stabbed 3 times. Janice's 10-year-old son Jarvis survived the fire but has irreversible brain damage and will need to live in a nursing home for the rest of his life.A Jefferson Parish firefighter was also injured.
Later that morning Cyrus Casby, father of Cyanna Carto, was arrested for stabbing the victims and setting the fire that killed and injured the victims. On May 27, 2008, a five-day trial for defendant Cyrus Casby ended with a verdict of NOT GUILTY on all counts. Cyrus Casby was a free man.
After the trial the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office contacted the US Attorney's Office and asked them to review the case. ATF was contacted by the United States Attorney's office and tasked with conducting the review.
Because of the enormous complexity of the investigation, ATF assigned Mike Valle as a Case Agent. Agent Valle had 3814 fugitive apprehensions at that time. The review concluded several critical elements. First, Justice was not served in this case. Second, the initial trial did not include the crime of Arson therefore another trial in Federal Court for Arson would not violate Casby's rights under the rules of Double Jeopardy. Third, Federal Court is a different jurisdiction than State court so the rules of Double Jeopardy would not apply anyway. Lastly, additional evidence was available for a second trial as it relates to witnesses and Fire Science that were not utilized in the first trial.
An investigation was opened and on June 14, 2011, Mike Valle and his crack team of investigators arrested Cyrus Casby in Dallas, Texas. Casby was charged with violating Federal Arson laws.
New Orleans United States Attorney's Office requested permission to seek the death penalty against Cyrus Casby, but US Attorney Eric Holder denied the request.
On August 12, 2013, after several delays Cyrus Casby stood trial in Federal Court. On August 16, 2013, Cyrus Casby was found guilty of Federal Arson Charges. Sentencing is set for early 2014.
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