Category: What’s New

Todd Williams gets 21 years for killing 3 Good Samaritans in DWI crash

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Dec. 9) sentenced Todd Williams to a total of 21 years in prison for killing three Good Samaritans and injuring two others while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Williams, 40, of New Orleans, pleaded guily as charged guilty to three felony counts of vehicular homicide for the deaths of the Rev. Claude Luther Williams, Jr., 40, of Gretna; his friend Williams J. Leinart, 49, of Gretna; and Joseph Chopin, 66, of Marrero.

About 10:30 p.m., on June 16, a motorist was traveling east on the elevated Westbank Expressway near MacArthur Boulevard when one of the tires of her 2017 Hyundai Accent blew out. That caused her car to strike the concrete rail and come to a rest facing oncoming traffic in the left and center lanes, according to Louisiana State Police.

The Rev. Williams and his passenger Leinart stopped to assist the motorist, as did Chopin, who was driving separately. The three men and passengers from the Hyundai stood outside their vehicles.

Todd Williams, driving a 2015 Chevrolet Impala in the left lane, struck the Hyundai, which in turn struck another vehicle and pedestrians. Claude Williams, who was on the phone with a 911 operator when the crash occurred, Leinart and Chopin were thrown over the side and fell 30 feet to their deaths. Other motorists were injured.

Williams blood-alcohol content was .11 percent, above the .08-percent legal limit to drive.

On Monday, after hearing a letter of forgiveness written by the Rev. Williams’ wife and read aloud by a prosecutor, and hearing Todd Williams express sorrow and remorse, Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced the defendant to seven years in prison for each count of vehicular homicide. Judge Miller ran the sentences consecutively, for a total of 21 years.

Todd Williams also pleaded guilty as charged to two misdemeanor counts of vehicular negligent inuring, for which he received two six-month sentences. Judge Miller ran those sentences concurrent to the 21-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.

Irwin Gomez-Colon guilty of brutal stabbing, strangulation murder

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Dec. 5) found Irwin Gomez-Colon guilty of brutally stabbing and strangling a woman in her Terrytown apartment.

Gomez-Colon, 34, is guilty as charged of second-degree murder in the April 22, 2017, death of Nancy Yahaira Gomez Rodriguez, 33, a native of the Dominican Republic. Gomez-Colon and Rodriguez knew each other and lived in neighboring apartment complexes, according to trial evidence.

According to evidence presented at trial this week, Rodriguez was stabbed 24 times in her back and strangled in her apartment in the 2100 block of Empire Place. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the crime, found her bloody fingerprint on the apartment entry door, indicating she tried to escape as Gomez-Colon stabbed her.

Gomez-Colon was arrested two days after he killed Rodriguez, after he was linked to the crime through his DNA, which was recovered from a used condom that deputies found in her blood on the floor next to her body, according to trial evidence.

On Rodriguez’s kitchen countertop at the sink, deputies found his blood and evidence suggesting he attempted to clean up after killing her. He suffered two stab wounds on his right shoulder and a laceration on the palm of his right hand that is indicative of a slippage wound, caused when his hand slid down the blade as he stabbed the victim.

The jury also heard that Gomez-Colon had been arrested but never prosecuted for the alleged rapes of three other women, in Houston, Texas, in April 2014; in New Orleans in April 2015 and Jacksonville, Fla., in April 2016. Each of those women testified this week about how Gomez-Colon strangled them during the act, showing similarities to what happened to Rodriguez.

The jury deliberated about an hour before returning with its unanimous verdict. Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Gomez-Colon to life in prison with no probation, parole or suspension of sentence on Jan. 6.

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

Marrero man guilty of attempted murder of store clerk

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (Dec. 4) found Janarius Carey guilty of shooting a Marrero convenience store clerk before he himself was shot after repeatedly pointing his pistol at a deputy who was responding to the crime.

Carey, 26, of Marrero, was convicted as charged of the attempted second-degree murder of an 18-year-old clerk at a convenience store at Barataria Boulevard and the Westbank Expressway. The jury, which deliberated under three hours, acquitted Carey of attempting to rob the store and of aggravated assault with a firearm.

According to evidence presented at trial, about 4 a.m., on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, Carey attempted to enter the store with a mask covering his face. He approached a locked door, where the clerk questioned him about the mask, according to trial testimony. Upon seeing Carey holding a pistol, the victim ran to and locked the other door and retreated to the rear storage area to call 911.

As the victim spoke with a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office 911 operator, Carey fired his pistol into the door and entered. The victim lunged for the pistol, and the two men wrestled. During the melee, Carey shot the victim in his back, the bullet exiting his abdomen.

Carey was still inside the store when the first deputy arrived. During the foot pursuit that followed, Carey pointed his pistol at a deputy three times, acts that formed the basis for the aggravated assault charge. The deputy fired his service pistol four times at Carey, who was shot once in the right thigh. Carey was apprehended across Barataria Boulevard from the store.

Ballistics evidence presented at trial showed that Carey’s pistol misfired after he shot the victim, indicating he tried to shoot the victim a second time.

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Carey on Dec. 12.

Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

 

 

 

‘Harvey Hustlers’ narcotics supplier sentenced to life for Marrero murder

A judge on Monday (Dec. 2) sentenced Alcus Smith to life in prison for his conviction of killing Donte Hall in Marrero.

Smith, 32, of Harvey, was convicted by a jury on Oct. 31 of the second-degree murder of Hall, 22, who was shot multiple times in the 2600 block of Pelican Bay Boulevard on Nov. 15, 2013.

Smith was a narcotics trafficker who supplied the notorious West Bank gang “Harvey Hustlers,” according to evidence presented at trial. Smith killed Hall believing that Hall cheated him in a narcotics transaction, according to trial evidence.

Smith already is serving a 65-year sentence for his 2015 conviction of racketeering, conspiracy to distribute narcotics and distribution of cocaine. Smith was charged in a case against the Harvey Hustlers that was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

After denying post-verdict motions and hearing impact testimony from Hall’s mother on Monday, retired Judge Raymond Bigelow, sitting pro tempore at the 24th Judicial District Court, sentenced Smith to the mandatory life sentence for killing Hall. Judge Bigelow ran the life sentence concurrent with the 65-year sentence Smith already is serving.

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

Ray Farria pleads guilty to shooting his wife through car windshield

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Nov. 18) sentenced Ray Farria to 80 years in prison, after he admitted in court to fatally shooting his wife in the neck in full view of the couple’s four young children.

Farria, 33, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the July 24, 2018 death of Dominique Farria, 30. He shot her as she sat in the New Orleans couple’s car at Lake Tahoe and Manhattan boulevards in Harvey, at an entrance to the Stonebridge subdivision.

Their children, ages 1, 7, 9 and 11 years old at the time, also were in the car and witnessed the shooting, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. None of the children was physically injured. Dominique Farria died later at a hospital.

Farria additionally pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, for discarding his pistol in a nearby wooded area, and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The couple was visiting family in the Stonebridge subdivision, where an argument ensued, leading Dominque Farriato to attempt to drive away, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Farria attempted to stop her, first by standing behind the car and then climbing onto the hood as she drove away. He fired one bullet into the windshield. She was struck in the neck.

Farria later asserted it was an accidental shooting and accused his wife of infidelity. He was charged with second-degree murder but, pursuant to a negotiated agreement, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In victim-impact testimony, Dominique’s mother said the family supported the plea agreement.

In accepting the plea, Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Farria to the maximum 40 years for manslaughter, 40 years for obstruction of justice and 20 years for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The sentences were run concurrently. Farria then pleaded guilty to being a habitual offender, leading to the 80-year sentence.

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Family Violence Unit Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish prosecuted the case.

Brandon Martin sentenced to life for killing Daz Alexis, 19, in Marrero

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (Nov. 7) sentenced Brandon Cordell Martin to a mandatory life sentence in prison for his conviction of killing a teenager.

A jury on Oct. 19 found Martin, 23, guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of Daz Alexis, 19, and of obstruction of justice.

Martin, who lived in Marrero and New Orleans, shot Alexis in the head as they sat in Alexis’ car in Marrero on Nov. 18, 2017. Martin then left Alexis’ body in a field near Johnny Jacobs Playground in the 6100 block of 4th Avenue in Marrero. He also abandoned Alexis’ car in Marrero and eliminated evidence of his crime, leading to the obstruction of justice conviction.

After hearing impact testimony Thursday, Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Martin to life without parole, probation or suspension of sentence for the murder and 20 years for the obstruction of justice.

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

Jonathan Manuel convicted of murdering 10-month-old, wounding 16-year-old

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Nov. 7) found Jonathan “Dugga” Manuel guilty of firing a pistol into a Marrero home three years ago, killing a 10-month-old boy and injuring a 16-year-old.

Manuel, 30, of Marrero, was found guilty as charged of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The jury found that about 4:30 p.m., on Dec. 3, 2016, Manuel went to a home in the 2100 block of Caddy Drive and began shooting inside from the doorway.

Ten-month-old Xy’ahir “Nemo” Davis was shot twice and pronounced dead at West Jefferson Medical Center an hour later. The 16-year-old boy survived numerous gunshot wounds.

The jury, which was seated Monday, deliberated about two hours before returning with its verdicts. Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Manuel on Dec. 6.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.

 

Wayne Norman sentenced to 99 years as a habitual offender

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Nov. 6) sentenced Wayne Norman to 99 years in prison as a habitual offender, a week after he was convicted of robbing a 74-year-old man at gunpoint as the victim carried his Thanksgiving groceries into him Marrero home.

Norman 29, of Marrero, was convicted by a jury last week of armed robbery, aggravated flight and misdemeanor possession of stolen things in connection with the crimes he committed on Nov. 15, 2018.

According to evidence presented at trial, Norman spotted the 74-year-old victim at his bank’s drive drive-thru window and followed him to a grocery store. There, the victim purchased items for his family’s Thanksgiving meal. Norman then followed the victim to his home and robbed him in his driveway as the victim carried his groceries inside.

Shortly after, Norman, driving a stolen vehicle, led Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies on a pursuit that ended in Harvey, where Norman crashed the vehicle into a utility pole and fled on foot. He discarded his clothing in a shed in a resident’s back yard, snuck inside and hid in a children’s bedroom closet. Deputies caught him there with property that belonged to the victim, who is now age 75.

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

First Assistant Steve Wimberly retiring after 23 years; Margaret Hay appointed to the post

Margaret Hay has become first assistant district attorney, replacing Steve Wimberly (left) as second-in-command of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Paul D. Connick Jr. (right) named Hay to the post after Wimberly retired. Wimberly had been first assistant since Connick was first elected and took office in January 1997. (JPDA photo)

 

Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul D. Connick Jr. announced that effective Friday, Nov. 1, First Assistant District Attorney Steve Wimberly will retire after almost 23 years in the position.

Mr. Connick has appointed Chief of Trials Margaret Hay as the office’s new First Assistant District Attorney.

Mr. Wimberly has served as First Assistant since Mr. Connick became District Attorney in January 1997. Following a period of transition, Mr. Wimberly will continue to serve the citizens of Jefferson Parish in a part-time role at the office.

‘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.