Month: May 2019

Jefferson man convicted of robbing woman outside daughter’s home

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (May 15) found Aaron Harrell guilty of robbing a woman at gunpoint as she stood in her daughter’s driveway one morning last year.

Harrell, 40, of Jefferson, was found guilty as charged of armed robbery and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Harrell robbed the woman of her diamond wedding ring, ear rings and a wrist watch to obtain money with which he could feed his heroin addiction, according to evidence presented during the two-day trial.

Weeks later, the victim encountered Harrell, recognized him as her robber and contacted the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Harrell was legally barred from possessing firearms because of his past convictions of narcotics and of armed robbery.

Harrell denied involvement in the robbery and his attorneys argued that the victim misidentified their client.

The jury deliberated about two hours. Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Harrell on May 29.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.

Metairie man convicted of robbing a feral feline advocate

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday (May 14) found Bobby Johnson guilty of robbing and kidnapping a woman who advocates for feral felines.

Johnson, 45, of Metairie, was convicted of first-degree robbery and simple kidnapping but was acquitted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. At the time he committed these crimes, Johnson was on parole for committing an armed robbery in 1996.

About 12:20 a.m., on Nov. 18, 2016, the victim, now 64, parked her sports-utility vehicle behind businesses on Airline Drive near David Drive and was leaning over the back seat to fill bowls with cat food when Johnson approached and demanded cash, she testified. “He put a gun to the side of my face,” she testified. “He kept saying ‘Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me.’”

She had no cash so she offered him her ATM card in hopes he’d leave. Instead, he bound her hands with a black cloth belt, forced her into her SUV and drove her to a nearby bank. Unsuccessful at withdrawing cash there, he drove her to a second bank. Striking out there, he drove her to the Walmart in Kenner in attempt to get cash back on a small purchase. It was there that she escaped, ran into the store and screamed for help, causing Johnson to flee. The pistol was never recovered.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Robbery Detective Marc Macaluso obtained surveillance images of Johnson committing the crimes and distributed them to law enforcement agencies in hopes of identifying him. Johnson’s parole officer, Patrick O’Brien, recognized and identified him, according to trial testimony.

The victim later identified Johnson in a photographic lineup. JPSO forensic DNA analyst Dr. Marcela Zozaya testified that a combination of Johnson’s and the victim’s genetic material was found on the cloth belt used to bind the victims hands.

At trial Tuesday, Johnson testified that he was a drug dealer on the street that morning to make a narcotics transaction. He testified that the victim pulled up in her SUV asking if she could purchase crack cocaine. He provided a sample, which made her intoxicated and left her unable to drive, he testified. So he drove her to attempt to get cash to pay for more crack, he asserted.

Both the victim and her husband of 24 years testified that she has never used illegal narcotics.

The jury deliberated about 1 ½ hours. Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court set sentencing for May 23.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case.

Chad McAvoy pleads guilty to killing his mother in Metairie

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (May 6) sentenced Chad McAvoy to 40 years in prison, after he pleaded guilty to killing his mother with a shotgun blast in their Metairie home. The state, during plea negotiations, agreed to a reduced charge of manslaughter but demanded the maximum 40-year sentence.

McAvoy, 22, admitted he killed his mother Connie McAvoy, 42, on March 1, 2018. Mrs. McAvoy was killed shortly after she returned to her home, where she got into a verbal disagreement with her husband and then with McAvoy in his bedroom.

“As she was leaving his room, he fired a single (shotgun shell) into her back, causing her to expire at the scene,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish said during the plea hearing in reciting the factual basis.

According to testimony presented during a pretrial hearing, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, after receiving a 911 call from McAvoy’s father, initially treated the incident as a suicide. Deputies found Mrs. McAvoy on the floor of a hallway, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to her upper back.

The detectives, thinking the matter was not a suicide, questioned McAvoy and his father, and McAvoy initially pointed blame to his father. McAvoy later confessed.

On Monday, Mrs. McAvoy’s sister, mother and older son provided impact testimony to the court, telling Judge Conn Regan they supported the plea agreement as being “best for the whole family,” and expressing their grief over their loss. McAvoy, who slumped over in his chair and wept as his family testified, later told the court he had “regret” for his decision to kill his mother and said he loved his grandmother and aunt.

Judge Regan, of the 24th Judicial District Court, then sentenced McAvoy to 40 years at hard labor and advised him to take advantage of self-help classes in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Molly Massey prosecuted the case.

Harvey man convicted of exploiting elderly woman, taking $800,000

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday evening (May 1) convicted Paul Juarez of exploiting an elderly Terrytown woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, assuming legal control of her finances and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of her money on many unexplained expenses.

Juarez, 72, of Harvey, is guilty as charged of exploitation of persons with infirmities in connection with his spending more than $800,000 of Marjorie Blake’s money during a six-year period, the jury found. Ms. Blake, a retired nurse and divorcée from North Carolina who had no children, died in March 2014 at age 85.

“She died penniless and alone,” Assistant District Attorney Lynn Schiffman, who prosecuted Juarez with Assistant District Attorney Johnny Carr, told jurors.

According to evidence presented at trial, Juarez knew Blake through their West Bank church and, after she was medically deemed unable to make decisions for herself due to Alzheimer’s in 2008, he assumed power of attorney for the ailing woman. Juarez refused to allow Ms. Blake’s closest relative, a niece who lives in North Carolina, to even visit her aunt.

Testimony showed that in 2010 Juarez transferred more than $300,000 from Ms. Blake’s bank to his own without explanation. He also made himself and his wife the exclusive beneficiaries to Ms. Blake’s life insurance policy. He used her money to pay a tax bill in Florida, in a county where his wife owned a business.

Ms. Blake’s niece, who was named in the will, contacted her attorney, who in turn contacted the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, leading to Juarez’s arrest.

Juarez denied exploiting Ms. Blake. His attorney argued that Ms. Blake made arrangement with Juarez to tend to her own care, and that he was carrying out her wishes. She wasn’t close to her niece, and she didn’t want to return to North Carolina, his attorney argued.

The six-member jury deliberated less than an hour before returning with its verdict. Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court is presiding over the case.

(UPDATE: Judge Regan on May 6 set Juarez’s sentencing hearing for July 11.)

Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Johnny Carr prosecuted the case.