The day the music died

Six months have passed since District Judge Johnny Walker pronounced sentence on the perpetrator of a high profile murder case that lingered as one of the more celebrated local whodunits until detectives finally were gifted with the information needed to make their case.

Jorell Young of Galliano now serves a life sentence without possibility of parole for the stabbing death of Robert LeCompte. Robert, who had more friends than you could shake a bar-rag at, was manager of the Drama Club, the Hollywood Road bar on whose floor his lifeless body was found Christmas morning of 2009.

The crime was brutal. And as detectives acknowledge, it was unlike most local murders. This was primarily because the possibilities for who might have committed the crime were myriad. That robbery was seen as a motive early on did not make things easier, but more complicated.

In the end, however, the detectives helped prosecutors present their evidence. The jury entertained the facts for and against the guilt of Young and came to a conclusion most observers of the proceedings would find as inescapable.

Despite the savage nature of the stabbing, despite a note suggesting the motive was rage, the evidence concerning currency as well as statements Young himself made sealed the deal.

And so at the Terrebonne Sheriff’s Office the file was put away. In the file room of the Clerk of Court the papers relating to the trial are now one more record. Life goes on for all concerned. Kind of.

For the people who knew Robert, for those to whom he was more than a mere victim of a crime, there is the memory that lingers, not of the crime but of what it halted, of what might have been.

Michael Faciane is one of many with knowledge of this.

“I was robbed of the prospect of the unknown,” said Michael, a 39-year-old former Marine and, at the time of the murder, the last person the ebullient LeCompte claimed as relationship potential, as well as a friend for nearly 10 years. So far as anyone knows, Michael was the last person LeCompte communicated with the morning he died.

Faciane said LeCompte was coming to his home that morning; the two were going to visit his relatives later in the day.

The timing of all this led to a lot more attention from investigators than Michael was comfortable with. But he endured the questions, even some innuendos, because he knew that the more information detectives had, the closer they could come to unraveling the mystery.

The effects of LeCompte’s murder – no greater nor lesser than those of others who were so close to him – remain through today for Michael. One of the first signs Faciane had that his life would not be the same – past the tears and the pain inside that doesn’t leave – involved his work.

Michael has for 20 years or more mostly worked as a disc jockey. That profession has changed radically over the decades, from being the realm of mix-masters whose sole purpose was to keep dancers dancing, to being a celebrity host of sorts. But what dj’s have always done is choose their music.

And Michael noticed that the music changed in the wake of the slaying.

“It was no longer personal,” he said. “My defense mechanism was stripped away from me. I could no longer hide behind the music. I couldn’t hide behind Rihanna. I chose older music, less descriptive music. I guarded my emotions. Still do. And it’s a problem. Who wants to listen to music from a dj who is bitter at the world?”

The crowds in the New Orleans venues where he plays are not complaining, though Michael knows the difference.

But the real change is still evident when he is alone. Listening to music from his HTC cell phone through a pair of red Beats ear buds, Michael’s mind wraps around the past. Could have. Would have. Should have. He doesn’t know when that will end.

But neither do most of the survivors when someone close to them is taken suddenly, whether by the bullet or the car or the knife.

From the well-tended lawns of Newtown, Conn., where innocents were slain last year to the ditches of Houma where cars have slammed into trees, to the porch swing where Michael listens to Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn,” the survivors remain long after the newspapers that chronicled their losses are trashed, shredded or burned, or the words of on-air newscasters vanished into vapor.

And in this sense Michael becomes one more soldier in the army of the bereaved, trying to make sense of the past while navigating as well as can be expected toward the future.