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NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Dwight Henry, a baker-turned-actor who rose to prominence with his debut performance in the Oscar-nominated 2012 movie "Beasts of the Southern Wild," is facing scrutiny from prosecutors who say they are not sure why he avoided charges in connection with a 2006 New Orleans killing.
Henry, who went on to act in "12 Years a Slave" and is slated to appear in the forthcoming Marvin Gaye biopic "Sexual Healing," was arrested eight years ago in connection with a stabbing death, but was released without charge, Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bowman said.
"Our office pulled the file and it wasn't immediately apparent to us for what reason the case was refused," Bowman said, adding that the charging decision was made by a previous administration that was less aggressive in prosecuting violent crime.
Prosecutors have no timeline for when they will decide whether to charge Henry in connection with the killing, Bowman said, adding that there is no statute of limitations for murder in Louisiana.
Bowman declined to identify the victim, reported by the New Orleans Advocate newspaper as Leroy Paige, who was stabbed to death outside an apartment in the Bywater neighborhood on Feb. 5, 2006, on Super Bowl Sunday.
The newspaper brought the eight-year-old killing to light in the wake of Henry being sought by police earlier this week on suspicion of entering a bakery where he used to work and stealing $270 from the cash register.
Henry was arrested in that case on Thursday and was released after spending several hours in jail, Bowman said.
Henry's cousin, former New Orleans mayoral candidate Troy Henry, said the stabbing was done in self-defense, the Advocate reported.
Contacted by Reuters, he referred questions to his cousin's lawyer, Jason Williams, who said in a statement that the theft charges against his client are without merit. The statement did not address the 2006 incident.
Additional reporting by Kathy Finn in New Orleans; Editing by Eric Walsh