Author: Paul Purpura

I'm the public information officer for the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office. Reach me at 504.361.2514 or ppurpura@jpda.us.

Harvey, Metairie men convicted of unrelated armed robberies

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.

Avondale man sentenced as triple-offender after Metairie home invasion conviction

A judge on Monday (Oct. 22) handed a 45-year prison sentence to an Avondale man, whose criminal history includes narcotics offenses and whose latest conviction was for a Metairie home invasion that left a man critically injured.

Damon Stephney, 40, was found to be a triple felony offender under Louisiana’s habitual offender law by retired Judge pro tempore Michael Kirby, who was serving a temporary appointment to the 24th Judicial District Court’s Division E seat when he presided over Stephney’s trial last month.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 21 found Stephney guilty as charged of aggravated burglary, for being one of the men who on March 5, 2017 forced their way into a home in the 400 block of Oaklawn Drive, just north of Interstate 10.

The boyfriend of the homeowner was shot twice in the back as he fled up Oaklawn. “Never have I been so terrified in my life,” he told Judge Kirby in impact testimony on Monday.

For the aggravated burglary, Judge Kirby sentenced Stephney to 30 years in prison. He vacated that sentence after finding that prosecutors met their burden of proving Stephney is a triple offender and resentenced him to 45 years.

In explaining his reasons for the 30-year sentence, Judge Kirby noted in part that Stephney enlisted his sons to participate in the crime. His sons, Wendell Garcia, 20, of Algiers, and Damon Garcia, 23, of Avondale, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the crime, to aggravated burglary and accessory after the fact to aggravated burglary, respectively.

On Monday, Wendell Garcia pleaded guilty to being a second felony offender under the state’s habitual offender law. Judge pro tempore Chuck Credo, also serving a temporary appointment to the Division E seat, resentenced Garcia to 30 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Seth Shute prosecuted the case.

Juvenile Pre-trial Diversion staff co-author report highlighting benefits of early intervention in delinquency cases

Jefferson Parish’s Juvenile Pre-trial Diversion program is reaching troubled youths quicker than the intervention of the courts, according to a paper co-authored by Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office staff and published nationally this week.

And that’s important considering that youths’ behaviors are more motivated by immediate rewards rather than when the consequences are extended over a long period, according to co-author Blake Bascle, deputy chief for adult and juvenile diversion programs at the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office. Through diversion, youths are reached in a month, whereas through the courts the period can extend up to four months.

“Use of pre-adjudication diversion can reduce the time between arrest and intervention. Diversion services typically begin within one month of the offense. Expedient case processing provides youth with immediate opportunities to achieve program goals rather than relying on significantly delayed court-based responses to change behaviors,” wrote Bascle and Dr. John Ryals Jr., evaluation and treatment supervisor for the Jefferson Parish Department of Juvenile Services.

Vivie Satorsky, of the Pre-trial Diversion staff, contributed to the paper, “Strengthening Interagency Collaboration: The Case for Pre-Adjudication Diversion,” published by the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, which is based in Boston, Mass.

The authors cover an array of juvenile intervention matters in Jefferson Parish. Notable among them is Restorative Practices, a joint program between the District Attorney’s Office and the Jefferson Parish Public School System. Public schools that have adopted Restorative Practices have seen a 13.7-percent reduction in expulsions while schools that do not use the program saw an 18.5-percent increase in expulsions during the two-year period ending in 2017, according to their paper.

Read the paper here.

Marrero home invader sentenced to 68 years in prison as habitual offender

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Oct. 10) resentenced Brandon Pike to 68 years in prison, finding that the man who was convicted earlier this year of brutally beating an 84-year-old woman in her home is a second-felony offender.

Pike, 39, Marrero, was convicted as charged in February of aggravated burglary and second-degree battery. The convictions stem from New Year’s Eve 2016, when Pike kicked in the front door of the woman’s 16th Street home in Marrero, ordered her to give him money, and when she said she had none, he proceeded to punch her in the head until she lost consciousness. He left with her television, according to trial evidence.

The woman regained consciousness and called a family member, who in turn notified a neighbor who found the victim on the living floor next to her Christmas tree with gifts still under it, according to trial evidence. She later was able to identify Pike as her attacker.

A Jefferson Parish jury convicted Pike on Feb. 28. In March, Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Pike to 30 years in prison for the aggravated burglary and eight years for the second-degree battery, run consecutively for a total of 38 years.

On Wednesday, Pike was returned to Judge Rowan’s court for his multiple bill hearing. According to court records, in 2011, Pike pleaded guilty as charged to unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, after he was caught in Marrero driving a 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis that had been stolen in Terrebonne Parish. That conviction was used in the multiple bill to enhance the sentence.

After ruling that Pike is a double offender, Judge Rowan vacated the 30-year sentence for the aggravated burglary and resentenced him to 60 years. He ran the eight years for the second-degree battery consecutive to the 60 years, for a total of 68 years.

In explaining his decision, Judge Rowan recalled trial evidence showing the victim’s injuries. “Her eye was swollen shut. She was left to lay on that floor all night, which I believe was New Year’s Eve.”

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

Avondale man convicted of Metairie home invasion

A Jefferson Parish jury Friday night (Sept. 21) found Damon Stephney guilty as charged of the aggravated burglary of a Metairie home last year, a crime in which a victim was shot twice in the back as he fled. The verdict brings to three the number of convictions reached in the crime to date.

Stephney, 40, of Avondale, was one of two masked gunmen who forced their way into a home in the 400 block of Oaklawn Drive on the night of March 5, 2017, and ordered three residents to their knees in an attempt to rob the victims.

The partner of the homeowner, also a victim, escaped the home and was shot twice, in the back and in an arm, as he ran for help up Oaklawn Drive toward Veterans Memorial Boulevard, according to trial testimony. He survived.

Two of Stephney’s sons, Wendell Garcia, 20, of Algiers, and Damon Garcia, 23, of Avondale, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the crime. A fourth defendant awaits his trial.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office later found narcotics in the possession of two of the Oaklawn home’s residents, who rented rooms from the homeowner. One was booked and later pleaded guilty, and the other was given a misdemeanor summons. The narcotics were believed to be the reason Stephney and the others targeted the home.

Stephney denied being involved and fainted upon hearing the jury’s verdict, which was rendered after less than an hour of deliberation. Stephney was taken to a local hospital by ambulance.

Retired Plaquemines Parish Judge Michael Kirby, appointed pro tempore to the 24th Judicial District Court’s Division E seat, set Stephney’s sentencing hearing for Oct. 22.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Seth Shute prosecuted the case.

Law enforcement, court officials learn new law helping keep guns out of domestic abusers’ hands

 

With a new Louisiana law designed to further protect domestic violence victims taking effect in coming weeks, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office is engaged in a statewide effort to educate law enforcement and court officials to ensure that certain offenders are not possessing firearms.

In addition to helping with the training seminars, the DA’s Office on Wednesday (Sept. 12) hosted a regional training session in its Media Room. It was the second of seven such regional events that are scheduled at sites across Louisiana before the law, Act 367, takes effect on Oct. 1.

Based on legislation authored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans during the 2018 legislative session and signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in May, Act 367 requires that local authorities coordinate in developing policies on how to remove firearms from people who are prohibited from possessing them because of civil and criminal protective orders and domestic violence convictions.

“There has to be a bit of statewide uniformity in this process,” Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Sunny Funk, chief of the Domestic Violence Unit, told about 50 attendees during Wednesday’s session in the JPDA Media Room in Gretna.

The law requires, for instance, that the sheriffs’ offices, clerks of court and district attorneys shall develop forms, policies and procedures by Jan. 1, 2019, detailing how the process is conducted.

Lt. Valerie Martinez-Jordan of the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, who has taken on a leadership role in Louisiana in ensuring that her colleagues among the state’s 64 parishes are implementing the protective measures for victims of domestic violence, told Wednesday’s attendees that they’ll return to their jurisdictions and adapt their processes to the new law.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter process for every parish,” Lt. Martinez-Jordan told the attendees.

Among other mandates, the law requires that licensed firearms dealers notify local sheriff’s offices if a person prohibited from possessing firearms attempts to purchase them. The law also imposes criminal penalties on dealers who provide firearms to prohibited people knowing that they are barred from having guns.

Judges also are to order the transfer of firearms to local sheriffs’ offices from defendants when they are convicted of certain offenses, such as domestic abuse battery and battery of a dating partner. Such defendants are required to turn over to the sheriff’s office all their firearms within 48 hours of the conviction or within 48 hours of their release from incarceration.

The firearms can be transferred to a third party or transferred to the sheriff’s offices, which in turn can place them in storage and charge the defendants “a reasonable fee” to cover the cost of storage.

Starting with the first session in Thibodaux on Friday (Sept. 7), ADA Funk, Lt. Martinez-Jordan and East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court Judge Pamela Baker, in connection with the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, are traveling across the state, meeting with local officials to help them implement Act 367’s mandates.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials from Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Washington parishes converged on the DA’s Office Media Room for the daylong session.

Sessions are scheduled for sites in Scott, Baton Rouge, Pineville, Bossier City and Ruston. An eighth session is under consideration in New Orleans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marrero man sentenced to two life sentences plus 50 years in Harvey murders, attempted murder

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Sept. 12), sentenced Jacobie Green to back-to-back life sentences plus another 50 years in prison for his conviction of participating in a Father’s Day 2015 shooting in Harvey that left two men dead and a third man wounded.

Green, 26, of Marrero, was convicted as charged Aug. 3, of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder. The jury found he was a gunman in the June 21, 2015 shooting at an Apache Drive apartment in which Johnnel Ovide, 23, and Trammell Marshall, 21, were killed and a then-23-year-old man surviving numerous gunshot wounds, including one Green fired into his face.

Before he died, Marshall identified “Cobie” as a gunman, as did the surviving victim, whom Green shot in the face, according to trial testimony.

Ovide’s mother and Marshall’s mother each provided written statements into the court in lieu of impact testimony, which were read aloud by a prosecutor.

Marshall’s mother noted how Green and her son had been friends. “You stole a life from someone who trusted you,” she wrote. “He opened the door not knowing your face would be the last face he would see.”

Ovide’s mother wrote, “I don’t go a day without thinking about my son. The pain is unimaginable.”

After denying a defense motion for a new trial and hearing a prosecutor read the impact testimony statements, Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Green to two life sentences, one for each of the murders, and the maximum 50 years for the attempted murder.

Judge Grefer then ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, noting that “two lives were taken and a third life was almost taken.”

Green is the second man to be sentenced to prison in connection with the incident. In February, Archie Hulbert III, 34, of Algiers, received a seven-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to perjury for lying to a Jefferson Parish grand jury in an attempt to help Green avoid prosecution. Two codefendants await their trials in connection with the shooting.

Assistant District Attorneys Matt Clauss and Laura Schneidau prosecuted the case.

 

Olivia Matte pleads guilty as charged to fatal DWI crash, awaits sentencing

A Jefferson Parish judge on Tuesday (Sept. 4) ordered a presentencing investigation after Olivia Matte pleaded guilty to causing the death of a Mississippi man as a result of driving while intoxicated on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway last year.

On what was scheduled to be her trial date, Matte, 28, of Covington, pleaded guilty as charged to vehicular homicide, a felony, in the March 23, 2017 death of James Blackmond, 37, of Foxworth, Miss.

Matte also pleaded guilty as charged to vehicular negligent injuring, involving Blackmond’s 44-year-old passenger; failing to maintain control of a motor vehicle; and operating a vehicle while her driver’s license was suspended. Those charges are misdemeanors.

Matte’s blood-alcohol content was .216, close to three times higher than the legal limit to drive in Louisiana.

In accepting her guilty plea, Judge Glenn Ansardi of the 24th Judicial District Court granted Matte’s attorney’s request for a presentence investigation. Judge Ansardi allowed Matte to remain free on bond, denying the prosecutors’ request that she be remanded to jail while awaiting her sentencing.

Judge Ansardi will announce Matte’s sentence on Nov. 15.

Assistant District Attorneys Joshua Vanderhooft and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.

Harvey man sentenced to life plus 40 years for Woodmere murder, attempted murder

A Jefferson Parish judge on Friday (Aug. 31) sentenced Ivory Franklin II to a mandatory life sentence plus 40 years in prison, for his conviction of shooting an 18-year-old acquaintance in the back of his head as they walked along a Harvey drainage canal bank.

Franklin, 21, of Harvey, was convicted of second-degree murder in June of killing Reginald Black. He also was convicted as charged of attempted second-degree murder for trying to kill Black’s 15-year-old nephew, for which Franklin received the 40-year sentence.

After denying defense post-verdict motions and hearing impact testimony from Black’s mother, Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court ran the 40-year sentence consecutively to the life sentence.

Judge Rowan noted that after killing Black, Franklin fired indiscriminately at the fleeing 15-year-old without regard for the residents who lived nearby. “If you could, you would have taken out both parties in this case,” Judge Rowan said.

About 3 a.m., on May 5, 2016, the trio was walking along the canal bank behind homes on Windmere Court, just south of Post Street in the Woodmere subdivision, when Franklin shot Black with a revolver. Black, whom Franklin lured from his home that morning, never saw it coming, according to trial testimony.

Franklin then shot at the 15-year-old witness, who crossed through the canal water and to the first house he saw with lights on, according to trial evidence. The resident of that house called 911.

Franklin denied being the shooter and blamed the 15-year-old, whom he accused of horseplay with the pistol when it fired, striking Black. A Jefferson Parish jury rejected the defense assertion and convicted Franklin on June 9.

In a letter written to the court, Black’s mother noted that Franklin “was cold and calculated in his deed,” and that he “is the lowest of predator and should not participate in society again.”

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

Gretna resident sentenced to 20 years, fined $50,000 in cocaine possession case

A Jefferson Parish judge has sentenced a former Gretna resident to 20 years in prison for the almost 4,000 grams of cocaine he was found to possess during an investigation into narcotics trafficking from Texas. The cocaine in total had a $600,000 local street value.

Marvin Acevedo, 35, also was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine in connection with his July 10 conviction of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Acevedo on Monday (Aug. 13), after denying a defense request for a new trial and other post-verdict motions.

Evidence presented during the trial shows that Acevedo is using the name of a man who is currently imprisoned in Puerto Rico on narcotics charges. Acevedo refuses to reveal his true identity.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents arrested Acevedo on June 19, 2017, during an investigation into a tip that he was trafficking cocaine into the area from Texas. According to evidence presented to the jury, the agents tracked Acevedo from the Louisiana state line at Texas on Interstate 10 and followed him to Kenner, where they arrested him.

The agents located 12 grams of cocaine and more than $3,300 in cash in the vehicle in which he traveled. They also found he used a Florida state identification card. The investigation led the agents to a storage unit business on Belle Chasse Highway near Gretna, blocks from where he lived at the time.

In his unit, the agents found almost 4,000 grams of cocaine bundled in four bricks, all of which were stashed in an ice chest along with documents with Acevedo’s name on them. Each brick would have a local street value of about $150,000, according to trial testimony. Text messages recovered from a cell phone in Acevedo’s possession were indicative of narcotics trafficking.

Additionally, Judge Kovach on Aug. 9 sentenced Acevedo to six months in jail after finding him guilty of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. She ran the jail term concurrent with the 20-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Voss and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.