Category: What’s New

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.

Nakesia Washington pleads guilty to stealing from 2018 Essence Festival tourists

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (July 3) gave Nakesia Washington a 15-year sentence after she admitted to stealing money from almost 100 people who paid her to arrange their travel packages to New Orleans’ Essence Festival last year.

Washington, 42, of Harvey, who was the sole owner of OBL Travel in Marrero, pleaded guilty as charged to theft of U.S. currency valued at $25,000 or greater from 98 victims listed in the amended bill of information the state filed in court Wednesday. All the victims live out of state; a dozen of them provided letters that were read aloud in court as impact testimony in which they expressed anger over how Washington ruined their festival plans and how they suffered financially.

In accepting the plea, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court gave Washington a 15-year prison sentence. Judge Kovach then suspended six of those years, meaning Washington’s prison term will be nine years. Of the six-year balance, Washington will serve three years on active probation, during which she must pay restitution to the victims, the judge ordered.

Judge Kovach set a restitution hearing for July 11 to determine the amount she owes the victims.

Washington accepted money from customers to arrange for their hotel reservations, VIP party passes, concert tickets, travel insurance and other festival-related purposes, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Her customers traveled to New Orleans only to learn that, in some cases, they had no hotel reservations or services for which they paid.

Washington deposited more than $240,000 into her business bank account and provided some of the services her customers sought. She also used that account to pay for an array of personal activities, from restaurants to rental car payments and gasoline to shopping trips, Sheriff’s Office economic crimes detectives found.

The Sheriff’s Office investigated the case with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Service.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

 

 

New Orleans man convicted of violating protective order – a second time

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday (June 25) deliberated approximately 20 minutes in finding Reginald Raymond guilty as charged of violating a protective order with previous convictions.

Raymond, 55, of New Orleans, was under court order issued in August 2018 to stay away from a woman. He violated that order the first time in September 2018, leading to his pleading guilty to that offense in December 2018.

Despite that, on Jan. 2, 2019, Raymond showed up at the woman’s house, leading her to notify the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy. He fled before the deputy arrived.

Two days later, a detective visited the woman to follow up on the investigation when the detective smelled cigarette smoke and heard music coming from the woman’s shed. According to trial testimony, the detective found Raymond hiding inside.

The woman declined to testify during the trial. Without victim testimony, the prosecutors relied solely on the evidence presented by law enforcement officers and court records to prove the charge.

Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Raymond on July 15.

Assistant District Attorneys John Ransone and Christina Fisher prosecuted the case.

Week roundup: Juries render guilty verdicts in JP, Kenner narcotics cases

Jefferson Parish juries this week rendered guilty verdicts in three narcotics cases, including that of a Kenner man who was booked with selling heroin to another man who overdosed.

Matthew Locicero, 31, was convicted as charged Thursday night (June 27) of distribution of heroin and obstruction of justice in connection with a Sept. 8, 2018 incident. Kenner police booked Locicero after learning he sold $40 worth of heroin to a 53-year-old man who collapsed outside a strip mall in the 4000 block of Williams Boulevard.

Locicero then concealed evidence of the crime by disposing the needle and other items in a trash can. That act led to the obstruction of justice conviction.

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Locicero on July 10.

Assistant District Attorneys Laura Schneidau and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.

Jefferson man guilty of cocaine dealing, flight from JPSO

Meanwhile, a Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (June 26) convicted Charles A. Lane Jr., of being a crack cocaine dealer who led narcotics agents on a high-speed pursuit through Metairie that ended with a fiery crash.

Lane, 35, of Jefferson, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine 28 grams or greater, possession of methamphetamine, aggravated flight and criminal damage valued at more than $1,000 but less than $50,000.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics detectives investigated Lane after learning he would be going to a motel in the 2400 block of Clearview Parkway with narcotics about 1 a.m., on April 12, 2018.

In the parking lot, deputies used their police units with emergency lights activated to box in Lane’s Chevrolet Tahoe, according to trial evidence. Attempting to flee, Lane rammed a police unit and escaped the motel parking lot, leading deputies on a pursuit through Metairie during which he disregarded traffic signals and traveled upwards of 75 mph in a 35 mph zone.

The pursuit ended near Lane’s apartment in the 2900 block of Burns Street. He lost control of his SUV and struck a parked vehicle. He then rammed a second JPSO vehicle, causing it to catch fire. The deputies found seven grams of white powder on Lane’s body and another 28 grams in his apartment.

Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Lane on July 18.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittney Beckner and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case.

Methamphetamine dealer convicted

Separately, Shawn Clark, 43, of Marrero, was sentenced Thursday (June 27) to 10 years in prison two days after a jury convicted him of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Clark’s conviction stems from a traffic stop initiated by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on Westwood Drive in Marrero on Jan. 20, 2019. The deputies smelled marijuana in the car, arrested him and then found a pill bottle containing the methamphetamine, according to trial testimony.

Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court presided over the two-day trial that ended Tuesday (June 25) and sentenced Clark. A multiple bill hearing is scheduled for July 15.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

 

Terrance Leonard indicted with first-degree murder counts in Terrytown attack

Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul D. Connick Jr. announced today that a grand jury has returned an indictment against Terrance L. Leonard for four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

“After consulting with my staff and receiving input from the victims’ families, I have decided that my office will seek the death penalty,” Mr. Connick said.

Leonard, 33, is charged with the March 6 deaths of Kristina Riley, 32, her 14-year-old daughter, her 10-year-old son and her 9-year-old niece. He also is charged with attacking another of Ms. Riley’s daughters, a 12-year-old girl who survived.

Leonard additionally is charged with obstruction of justice.

In keeping with office policy, there will be no further comment on this open case.

Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish is leading the prosecution.

Sentences handed down in recent armed robbery convictions

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (May 29) sentenced Aaron Harrell to 35 years in prison for his conviction of robbing a woman at gunpoint as she stood in her daughter’s driveway.

Harrell, 40, of Jefferson, was convicted by a jury on May 14 of armed robbery and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

On the morning of May 24, 2018, Harrell robbed the victim of her diamond wedding ring, earrings and a wristwatch to obtain money to support his heroin addiction, according to trial testimony.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Harrell to 30 years for the armed robbery with an additional 5-year enhancement because a firearm was used in the crime.

Judge Mentz also sentenced Harrell to 20 years in prison for his being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ran that concurrent to the 35 years. Harrell was barred from possessing firearms because of past convictions of armed robbery and narcotics offenses.

A multiple-bill hearing is set for June 13.

Separately, Judge Scott Schlegel on May 23 sentenced Bobby Johnson, 45, of Metairie, to 40 years in prison for his convictions of first-degree robbery and simple kidnapping. Johnson was convicted of those offenses on May 14.

Just after midnight on Nov. 18, 2016, Johnson robbed a woman as she prepared to feed stray cats behind businesses on Airline Drive near David Drive. Johnson then forced her to two banks in failed attempts to withdraw cash from ATMs, and then to the Kenner Walmart in hopes of getting cash back from a small purchase. The victim escaped and called for help, leading Johnson to flee.

Judge Schlegel sentenced Johnson to 40 years for the first-degree robbery and five years for the simple kidnapping and ran the sentences concurrent to one-another. At the time of the crimes, Johnson was on parole for a 1996 armed robbery conviction. A multiple-bill hearing is scheduled for July 8.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Richard Olivier prosecuted Harrell.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted Johnson.

Jefferson man convicted of robbing woman outside daughter’s home

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (May 14) 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.

UPDATE: Judge Schlegel on May 23 sentenced Johnson to 40 years in prison for first-degree robbery and five years for the simple kidnapping. He ran the sentences concurrently, for a total of 40 years in prison. Johnson is due back in Judge Schlegel’s court on July 8 for a multiple bill hearing.

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.