Month: April 2016

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week 2016 to bring march, balloon release

National Crime Victims' Rights Week begins on Sunday (April 10).
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week begins on Sunday (April 10).


The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office is joining with Silence Is Violence and other agencies in sponsoring the annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week events in the New Orleans area, including a march through the Faubourg Marigny and French Quarter and a memorial balloon release over Bayou St. John.

Agencies across the United States will be observing the week, April 10-16, drawing the public’s attention to the traumatically emotional, physical and financial burdens that crime victims are forced to carry. The week also highlights the rights crime victims and witnesses to crimes have. Louisiana recognizes them in its Crime Victim Bill of Rights.

This year’s theme is “Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope,” underscoring the importance of early intervention and victim services in establishing trust with victims. That, in turn, begins to restore their home for healing and recovery, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crimes, which coordinates National Crime Victims’ Rights Week nationwide.

“My entire staff and I support and recognize this annual commemorative event,” Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick, Jr. said. “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is a unique opportunity to celebrate the tremendous progress made on behalf of victims.”

Tamara Jackson, executive director of Silence is Violence, said she’s excited to partner with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office this year.

“Our partnership will address specific needs of victims and their families,” Jackson said. “Our goal is to establish working relationships to better serve crime victims by building trust and restoring hope.”

Marilyn McCoy Roberts, acting director for the Office for Victims of Crimes, said in a message to providers of victims’ services that this year’s theme underscores the importance of establishing trust with victims and reaching socially, economically and geographically isolated people.

“If victims are to trust that the system will work for them, we must meet them where they are – physically, culturally and emotionally,” Roberts said. “By serving victims, building trust and restoring hope, the field can more effectively help victims as they rebuild their lives.”

The week stems from the movement that began more than three decades ago to recognize victims of crime.

Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, which partners with the Justice Department in highlighting the week, said this year’s theme “reminds us of the significant progress we have made in recognizing victims’ rights and at the same time emphasizes the need to expand our reach to marginalized, isolated, and other victims who are less likely to seek recovery services on their own.”

“We know that early intervention – addressing victimization when it occurs – is critical and can improve victim recovery and prevent future victimization,” Fernandez said.

In the New Orleans area, this year’s events include:

  • The Tutu Walk for Sexual Assault Awareness, 6 p.m., on Tuesday (April 12). The walk begins and ends at Port and Chartres streets in Faubourg Marigny and takes marchers through the French Quarter. The route will follow Royal Street to Bienville Street in the French Quarter, and Bourbon to Toulouse streets, then to Decatur Street past the French Market to Elysian Fields and Chartres back to Port Street.
  • Purple & Blue Peace Day, on Wednesday (April 13). Supporters are asked to wear purple or blue in support of women and children abuse prevention.
  • “Drinks for a Cause” on Thursday (April 14), 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at The Rusty Nail, 1100 Constance St., New Orleans.
  • A memorial balloon release on Friday (April 15), at 6:30 p.m., at Orleans Avenue and North Jefferson Davis Parkway.
  • A prayer vigil at 2 p.m., on Saturday (April 16), at Marr Avenue and Donner Drive in Algiers. It honors Kenneth Hall, 27, who was shot to death while in his pickup truck near the intersection on June 21, 2015.

Additionally, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Unit will provide information and resources all week from a static display in the Jefferson Parish Government Center’s atrium in Gretna, at 200 Derbigny St.

Other agencies involved with Silence is Violence in this year’s events include the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, the New Orleans Police Department’s Victim-Witness Unit, the New Orleans Forensic Center and The Family Leadership Training Institute.

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Metairie man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography

A Metairie man averted his trial for possession of child pornography involving children under age 13 on Monday (April 4), by pleading guilty as charged in exchange for a five-year prison sentence.

William Shiell, 49, also will have to register as a sex offender for 25 years beginning with his release from prison, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court ordered in accepting the guilty plea.

Shiell had been free from jail since posting a $15,000 bond on the day after his May 24, 2012 arrest by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. The judge allowed Shiell to huddle with his tearful family in the courtroom before he was fingerprinted and taken away in handcuffs to begin his prison sentence.

Sheriff’s Office Detective Nick Vega, working with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, was investigating an online peer-to-peer sharing website where child pornography is known to be shared, authorities said. The detective tracked illegal activities to Shiell’s home computer, where he found videos and images of prepubescent boys and girls engaged in sexual acts.

Shiell was scheduled to stand trial this week when he opted to plead guilty in exchange for the least amount of prison time the law allows for the crime. At the time of his arrest, possession of child pornography involving children under age 13 carried a punishment of five years to 20 years in prison.

Just months later, in August 2012, Louisiana doubled its punishment for possession of child pornography involving children under age 13 to 10 years to 40 years in prison.

The Internet Crimes Against Children program is funded by the U.S. Justice Department and involves local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working in 61 task forces nationwide that root out child predators on the Internet.

Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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‘Sovereign citizen’ burglar sentenced to 10 years in prison

A man already serving a six-month jail term for refusing to answer a judge’s questions during his trial last month was sentenced Monday (April 4) to 10 years in prison for burglarizing a Metairie widow’s home and then was caught the same day with her stolen jewelry.

Sean Stock, who turned 29 years old on Monday, was convicted of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and possession of stolen things on March 23. Among the items he stole was the engagement ring and wedding band that belonged to her husband, who died on Good Friday of 2014, according to trial testimony.

Stock broke into the woman’s home on 47th Street near South Causeway Boulevard during the weekend of June 20, 2015.

Stock was familiar with the home because he previously was hired to perform odd jobs there, including removing a tree, according to testimony. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office focused on him as a suspect after the homeowner overheard deputies mention Stock’s name and she recalled having hired him to do the work, she testified.

After rejecting two requests to toss out the verdicts and hearing a lengthy and emotional defense plea for lenience for the father of a 4-year-old boy, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Stock to 10 years on each count. She ran the sentences concurrently.

As his trial was beginning, Stock, who had a public defender appointed to his case, announced he wanted to act has his own attorney in disclosing an affiliation with the sovereign citizens movement, whose members refuse to recognize laws or pay taxes.

As the judge questioned him in connection with his request, Stock responded only that he was the attorney for his own corporation, an assertion indicative of the sovereign citizens movement. His non-responsiveness led Judge Kovach to find him in contempt of court and sentence him a six-month jail term.

Just before she announced her sentence for the convictions on Monday, Stock apologized for his courtroom disturbance. “I look back,” he said. “I was rude. I do want to apologize for that.”

Judge Kovach said she planned to run the 6-month jail term consecutively to the sentencings but opted to run it concurrently in light of his apology.

Stock’s punishment could be increased because of his 2004 conviction of carjacking, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. Prosecutors are seeking a sentencing enhancement under Louisiana’s habitual offender law, meaning his sentence for the burglary could increase to 24 years.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Andrew DeCoste prosecuted the case.

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DA’s Office diversion counselor presents lecture at national conference

Desislava Atlazova, a counselor in the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office Pre-Trial Adult Diversion Program, has been selected to present a lecture during the Law and Ethics in Counseling Conference 2016.

Held annually, the conferences bring together counselor educators, counseling graduate students and counseling practitioners from across the United States to review the latest trends and developments in the areas of law and ethics in counseling, according to event organizers.

Atlazova and fellow doctoral student Dustin Reed will present “Counseling, Boundary Issues, Multiple Relationships and Ethics,” during the weeklong conference. The presentation touches on a range of ethical matters, from touching in therapy to prohibited relationships.

A native of Bulgaria who immigrated to the United States 10 years ago, Atlazova, P.L.P.C., N.C.C., is a doctoral student in counseling at the University of Holy Cross in Algiers, formerly Our Lady of Holy Cross College. She holds a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from the University of New Orleans and has been employed at the District Attorney’s Office for more than two years.

The University of Holy Cross is hosting this year’s conference, began on Sunday Sunday (April 3) through Thursday at the Archdiocese of New Orleans Retreat Center in Metairie. A conference committee selects who’ll speak at the events.

Atlazova’s presentation is 10:15 a.m., on Thursday (April 7).

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