A Jefferson man has been convicted of purse snatching, for assailing a woman as she exited an Old Jefferson business.
Eric Fitch, 37, who was convicted of committing a similar offense in Terrebonne Parish in 2013, was convicted by a six-member Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday (Feb. 15). He also was found guilty of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.
On Nov. 28, 2015, the 64-year-old victim had left a bar in the 3500 block of Jefferson Highway just before midnight and was getting into the passenger’s seat of a friend’s vehicle when Fitch approached her asking for a cigarette. The woman, who had placed her purse in the car, told him she did not smoke. That’s when Fitch pushed her into the car, snatched the purse and ran away.
Because the victim’s cell phone was in the purse, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office was able to quickly track the stolen items. Deputies found Fitch just after 1 a.m., hiding in a large trash receptacle behind a grocery store in the 3600 block of Jefferson Highway.
Fitch refused to get out of the receptacle, leading Deputy Daniel Lassus to forcibly remove him and leading to the resisting arrest charge. The victim positively identified Fitch as the man who stole her purse.
Fitch was convicted of a felony theft offense tied to purse snatching in the 32nd Judicial District Court, in Terrebonne Parish, four years ago. He grabbed a 55-year-old woman’s purse as she left a business in Houma. Her wallet fell out of the purse as he tried to run. The victim picked up her wallet, and Fitch returned and grabbed it, too.
He also has convictions of attempted simple robbery and simple robbery, in Houma and Golden Meadow. His criminal history could lead him to receive a sentencing enhancement.
Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court, who heard testimony concurrently with the purse snatching case, found Fitch guilty of resisting arrest. Judge Darensburg is scheduled to sentence Fitch on Wednesday (Feb. 22).
Assistant District Attorneys Josh Vanderhooft and Thomas Sanderson prosecuted the case.