Jefferson Parish juries on Thursday evening (Oct. 25) returned guilty verdicts in two unrelated robberies, one involving a Harvey man who accosted two women in business parking lots and the other involving a Metairie man who helped in a pawn shop heist.
Armed purse snatchings
In the West Bank crime, Edward West, 31, of Harvey, was convicted of two counts of armed robbery, for robbing women in back-to-back crimes outside neighboring businesses in the 1500 block of Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey. West also was found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
On the evening of Nov. 19, 2016, West, armed with a .38-caliber revolver, assailed a 31-year-old woman as she left a discount store. The woman was returning to her vehicle after shopping when West approached, brandished the pistol and robbed her, according to trial testimony.
West then ran through the parking lot to an adjacent business and robbed a 78-year-old woman of her purse as she and her daughter finished shopping at a nearby business, according to testimony.
As West robbed the second woman, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Henry Dejean was in the area as part of a pro-active holiday police presence along the Manhattan Boulevard business corridor as the first victim was calling 911, according to testimony. As such, he was on the scene within seconds of the second robbery taking place.
Witnesses to the second robbery directed Deputy Dejean’s attention to West, who at this point was running across Manhattan Boulevard to behind an automotive repair business at Ute Street. Deputy Dejean pursued and helped locate and arrest West inside an apartment in the 1600 block of Ute Street.
The jury deliberated more than three hours in convicting West as charged of two counts of armed robbery and for being a felon with a firearm. Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court set West’s sentencing for Nov. 8.
Assistant District Attorneys Seth Shute and Emily Booth prosecuted West.
Pawn shop heist
Meanwhile, in Judge Conn Regan’s court, Edgard Rivas, 27, of Metairie, was convicted of first-degree robbery for his role in the Jan. 7, 2017, robbery of a pawn shop in the 7900 block of Airline Drive.
Rivas and two of his roommates, Mario Gevani and Carlos Ramos, entered the business on that evening, all concealing their faces, according to testimony. Two of the robbers wore Jason character masks from the “Friday the 13th” movie series, according to testimony.
Geovani and Ramos were armed with an AR-15 rifle and a semiautomatic pistol, while Rivas was armed with a hammer that he used to break the glass display cases to take jewelry, according to testimony. The trio escaped with cash, jewelry and a man’s wallet, according to testimony.
The following month, on Feb. 7, 2017, members of the Sheriff’s Office’s Project STAR team were conducting a narcotics investigation of Rivas and went to his Trenton Street apartment, according to testimony.
Project STAR deputies seized narcotics and noticed a Jason mask in the trio’s apartment. Robbery Detective Anthony Buttone, who was investigating a string of robberies in which robber wore a Jason mask, obtained a search warrant for the trio’s apartment. He discovered clothing matching that worn in the pawn shop robbery, leading him to question the trio and to obtain confessions, according to testimony.
Ramos, 21, and Geovani, 22, previously pleaded guilty to armed robbery counts, with Judge Regan sentencing Ramos to 20 years in prison and Geovani to 26 years in prison.
The jury deliberated over two hours in finding Rivas, who wielded a hammer during the pawn shop robbery, guilty of the responsive verdict of first-degree robbery. Judge Regan is scheduled to sentence Rivas on Nov. 26.
Assistant District Attorneys Blair Constant and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted Rivas.