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 Hustlers’ narcotics supplier convicted of Marrero murder

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Oct. 31) found Alcus Smith guilty of gunning down a man on a Marrero street in a retaliatory killing six years ago.

Smith, 32, of Harvey, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Donte Hall, 22, who was shot multiple times in the 2600 block of Pelican Bay Boulevard on the night of Nov. 15, 2013.

According to evidence presented at trial, Smith, a narcotics trafficker who was a supplier of the notorious Harvey Hustlers street gang, killed Hall believing that Hall cheated him in a drug transaction.

Smith already is serving a 65-year prison sentence in connection with his 2015 conviction of racketeering, conspiracy to distribute narcotics and distribution of cocaine. He was among 21 people indicted by a Jefferson Parish grand jury in 2015 in a sweeping narcotics racketeering case involving the Harvey Hustlers.

The jury, which was seated Monday, deliberated less than one hour in reaching its verdict. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison on Nov. 14.

UPDATE: Smith’s sentencing hearing was postponed to Dec. 2.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Seth Shute prosecuted the case.

 

Wayne Norman convicted of robbing Thanksgiving shopper, fleeing deputies in stolen vehicle

A Jefferson Parish jury Tuesday night (Oct. 29) found Wayne Norman guilty of robbing a 74-year-old Marrero man at gunpoint in his driveway as the victim carried his family’s Thanksgiving groceries into his home last year.

Norman, 29, of Marrero, was convicted as charged of armed robbery and aggravated flight in connection with his crimes that occurred on Nov. 15, 2018. The jury also found Norman guilty of a lesser, misdemeanor charge of possession of stolen property.

Norman first spotted the victim at his bank, from where he followed him to the grocery. Inside the grocery, Norman went so far as to place a large spiral-cut ham into the victim’s shopping cart and then followed him out of the grocery and to the victim’s home. There, as the victim was bringing groceries into his home, Norman approached, pointed a pistol at the victim’s face and demanded money. The victim complied, and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office was alerted.

Norman fled on foot and was located inside a Lynnbrook Drive home, where he hid in a child’s bedroom closet. A resident in the home heard something suspicious, and authorities were notified. Deputies found Norman and arrested him.

Some of his clothing items he wore during the robbery were located in a backyard shed at that address. The money and hearing aid batteries that Norman took from the victim were found in Norman’s pocket when he was apprehended.

That same day, Norman was observed driving a 2002 Ford Escape that had been stolen in New Orleans. He fled deputies who tried to stop him and crashed the vehicle into a utility pole in Harvey’s Woodmere subdivision before fleeing on foot. These crimes led to his conviction of aggravated flight and possession of stolen property.

The jury deliberated approximately 45 minutes in convicting Norman of the armed robbery and aggravated flight. Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Norman on Monday (Nov. 4).

Assistant District Attorneys Joshua Vanderhooft and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.

Brandon Martin convicted of murdering teen in Marrero, obstruction of justice

A Jefferson Parish jury early Saturday unanimously found Brandon Cordell Martin guilty of shooting a teen in the head and then attempting to cover his tracks by eliminating evidence tying him to the crime.

Martin, who turned 23 during his trial, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Daz Alexis, 19, of New Orleans.

Martin, who lived in New Orleans and Marrero, and Alexis were in Alexis’ car when Martin shot him behind his left ear on Nov. 19, 2017. He then dumped Alexis’ body in a field near Johnny Jacobs Playground in the 6100 block of 4th Avenue in Marrero.

Martin also was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice, for abandoning Alexis’ car in the 2800 block of Mount Kennedy Drive, tossing the gun and the car keys into a nearby drainage canal and burning the clothing he wore at the time of the shooting.

The jury deliberated less than three hours before returning with its verdicts about 1 a.m., Saturday. Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Martin Nov. 7.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Clauss and Emily Booth prosecuted the case.

Harvey parents sentenced to prison in child cruelty case

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Oct. 9) sentenced Lionel Smith of Harvey to 13 years in prison after a jury convicted him of cruelty to juveniles upon he and his girlfriend’s children as well as her children from another relationship.

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court also sentenced the children’s mother, Cieara Wilson, also of Harvey, to eight years in prison, suspending all but one year of the prison term.

Smith, 32, was convicted as charged by a Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 5 of four counts of cruelty to juveniles. Wilson, 33, who was tried with Smith, was convicted as charged of two counts of cruelty to juveniles. The crimes, which occurred over a period of years, were reported to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in November 2016, when the children were ages 3, 4, 12 and 14.

Wilson was the mother of all four children, and she had two of the children with Smith, who meted out severe punishment to all four children while Wilson did little to nothing to intervene, Judge Grefer noted. He ordered the parents to view crime scene photos of the children’s injuries during the sentencing hearing.

“They were severe,” Judge Grefer said of the injuries. “They were intentional. They were repeated.”

Smith inflicted the brunt of the beatings. Wilson also beat her kids but not as severely. Still, Judge Grefer noted, Wilson did nothing to stop Smith. “I don’t see how you can allow that to happen to your kids,” he said.

Assistant District Attorneys Laura Schneidau and Emily Booth prosecuted the case.

Twyena Thomas sentenced to life for murdering her toddler

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Sept. 30) sentenced Twyena Thomas to life in prison for her conviction of killing her 28-month-old son, Chase Thomas.

On the two-year anniversary of Chase’s death, Thomas, 29, appeared in court to receive the mandatory punishment for second-degree murder. A Jefferson Parish jury on Aug. 22 convicted her as charged for causing her son’s death in their Kenner apartment through blunt-force trauma injuries to his head. Chase also weighed a mere 15 pounds at death.

 “Chase’s scars, scabs, bruises, his broken skull and his 15-pound body tell us that you were the hateful monster.”

“Chase died alone in his room, scared not of the imaginary monster in his closet, but you. You were the monster. Chase’s scars, scabs, bruises, his broken skull and his 15-pound body tell us that you were the hateful monster,” 24th Judicial District Judge Danyelle Taylor said in sentencing Thomas to life at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

After denying post-verdict motions for a new trial, Judge Taylor heard letters written by six people and two witnesses before handing down the sentence. The defendant addressed the Court prior to sentencing and stated that Chase “didn’t deserve that.”

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Whitworth and Jenny Voss prosecuted the case.

Man convicted of sexually abusing girl sentenced to 60 years

A Jefferson Parish judge sentenced Rafael Chinchilla to 60 years in prison Thursday (Sept. 12), for his conviction of sexually abusing a child.

Chinchilla, 33, a native of Honduras, was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury on Aug. 30 of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13, indecent behavior with a juvenile under age 13 and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

The abuse began when the victim was 11 years old and continued until she was 13. The crimes occurred in Metairie and Kenner, during which Chinchilla sent her text messages both professing his love for her and threatening her. Police were notified in February 2017, after the victim’s father searched her mobile device and found evidence of the abuse, including audio of the victim telling Chinchilla to stop.

After hearing impact testimony from the victim and her father, Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Chinchilla to 60 years for the sexual battery, 20 years for the indecent behavior of a juvenile under age 13 and seven years for the indecent behavior with a juvenile. The sentences were run concurrently.

Judge Adams also ordered that, should Chinchilla be released from prison, he be electronically monitored and register as a sex offender for life.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Clauss and Emily Booth prosecuted the case.

Metairie man sentenced to 30 years for sexually abusing boy, child pornography

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Sept. 9) sentenced David Rees of Metairie to 30 years in prison after the defendant pleaded guilty as charged to crimes involving children.

In addition, Rees, 49, will register as a sex offender for life and face a lifetime of electronic monitoring should he be released from prison, 24th Judicial District Judge Stephen Enright ordered in accepting the guilty pleas.

Rees pleaded guilty to seven counts of pornography depicting children under age 13, oral sexual battery and molestation of a juvenile. Rees had been scheduled to stand trial on the charges this week.

Rees was arrested in January after the Louisiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force found pornographic images and videos depicting children on his home computer, cellphone, email and other locations. He was also arrested for sexually abusing a 4-year-old boy in 1996. The victim was under the care of Rees’ mother, who ran an unlicensed childcare business from her home, when the abuse occurred.

Judge Enright sentenced Rees to 30 years on each of the seven pornography counts, 15 years for the oral sexual battery and 15 years for the molestation of a juvenile. He ran the sentences concurrently and ordered that the sentences be served without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.

Twyena Thomas guilty of murdering her 28-month-old son

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday night (Aug. 22) found Twyena Thomas guilty of causing her 28-month-old son’s death through blunt-force trauma injuries to the child’s head.

Thomas, 29, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Chase Thomas in the Kenner apartment he shared with his mother and three siblings. He stopped breathing on Sept. 30, 2017. His severely emaciated body weighed a mere 15 pounds.

Although Chase was malnourished and dehydrated, his death was caused by blunt-force trauma to the head. According to an expert in pediatric child abuse, Chase was the victim of “child torture,” which includes psychological, emotional and physical abuse and starvation.

The jury, which was seated Tuesday, deliberated just over a half-hour. Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Thomas on Sept. 30.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Whitworth and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Week roundup: New Orleans man pleads to narcotics offense during trial, Honduran man convicted of molesting child

Two Jefferson Parish juries were seated this week for two unrelated trials, with one returning a guilty verdict against a man accused of sexually abusing a child and the other never getting to deliberate because the defendant pleaded guilty as charged.

Louisiana vs. Tyran Jones

Tyran Jones, 26, of New Orleans, received a 20-year prison sentence Wednesday night after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and resisting an officer.

The state presented nine witnesses to jurors and was resting its case when Jones pleaded guilty as charged.

On Jan. 23, 2018, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents arrested Jones on Jefferson Highway near Causeway Boulevard after observing him engaged in a drug transaction, according to trial testimony.

The agents found marijuana on his person and in his car, along with a loaded pistol in his vehicle. After transporting Jones following his arrest, deputies found cocaine and heroin where he was seated in the police unit, according to trial testimony.

Jurors were shown evidence from his cell phone that proved he was engaged in illegal narcotics sales and that he possessed the firearm. He was barred from possessing guns because of previous robbery and narcotics convictions in New Orleans.

After Jones admitted his guilt, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Jones to 20 years for the firearm charge, 15 years for the cocaine charge on a double bill and 20 years for the heroin charge. Judge Faulkner also sentenced Jones to six months resisting an officer and 15 days for the marijuana offense. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittany Beckner and Laura Schneidau prosecuted the case.

Louisiana vs. Edin Melgar

On Thursday night, a jury deliberated about 15 minutes before convicting Edin Melgar, 38, a native of Honduras who lived in Metairie, as charged of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13 and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

Both offenses involved a child who was between the ages of nine and 11 when the abuse ended in September 2018. The child, her mother and their pastor reported the abuse to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 28, 2018, leading to Melgar’s arrest. According to trial testimony, the child disclosed that Melgar threatened to harm her if she told anyone.

Jurors heard that at the time of his arrest, Melgar was wanted in South Carolina on charges of raping a child in that state in 2009. That victim testified Thursday.

Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Melgar on Aug. 19.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

Kenner man sentenced to 40 years for two Metairie kidnapping attempts

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (July 22) sentenced Joseph Picard to 40 years in prison for trying to kidnap a teenage girl and a woman from Metairie streets on June 15, 2017.

Following a two-day trial last month, Picard, 42, of Kenner, was convicted as charged by a Jefferson Parish jury of two counts of attempted second-degree kidnapping. The jury deliberated about 35 minutes in finding Picard guilty. The jury was unanimous on both counts

On Monday, after hearing impact testimony from the 28-year-old victim, Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Picard to 20 years for each second-degree kidnapping count. He ran the sentences consecutively. In explaining his sentencing decision, Judge Sullivan noted the undue risk that Picard would commit more crimes and that he is in need of correctional treatment.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.