Tag: domestic violence

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.

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.

Michael Dick sentenced to 80 years after admitting he killed stepfather

Accepting the state’s requirements in a negotiated plea agreement, a Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (April 24) sentenced Michael Anthony Dick to 80 years in prison under the state’s habitual offender law, after Dick pleaded guilty to killing his stepfather in Terrytown.

Dick, 33, admitted he shot Raymond Laurent, 60, while in the victim’s home in the 700 block of Whitney Avenue on Sept. 9, 2016.

Dick pleaded guilty to manslaughter as part of the plea agreement and received the maximum 40-year sentence for that offense as members of Mr. Laurent’s family looked on from the courtroom gallery. A prosecutor read to the court two statements written by Mr. Laurent’s sisters.

In 2016, Mr. Laurent’s wife – Dick’s mother – reported to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that she found her husband on the living room sofa with a gunshot wound to his head. Detective Jean Lincoln determined that Dick was responsible for the homicide.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force later located Dick in Picayune, Miss., where he was residing in a mobile home. Authorities found in the mobile home the .38-caliber revolver Dick used to shoot Mr. Laurent. Dick confessed to committing the homicide.

Dick also pleaded guilty Wednesday to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, in connection with the revolver he used to kill Mr. Laurent. He received the maximum 20-year sentence for that offense. Dick was prohibited from possessing firearms because of convictions of extortion and false representation of a controlled dangerous substance, both occurring in 2009, court records show.

In accepting the guilty pleas, Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court ran the sentences concurrently. She then resentenced Dick to 80 years in prison per his plea agreement, in finding that his manslaughter conviction was his fourth felony under the state’s habitual offender law.

UPDATE: For her role in Mr. Laurent’s death, Dick’s girlfriend, Amber Wilson, 34, of Gretna, pleaded guilty on Monday, June 10, to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. Judge Donnie Rowan sentenced her to eight years in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Brittany Beckner 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenner man sentenced to life plus 40 years in murder and dismemberment case

 

Convicted of killing his rival in a Kenner love triangle before dismembering the slain man’s body and discarding the parts in a River Parishes swamp, Viusqui J. Perez-Espinosa was sentenced Thursday (April 26) to spend the rest of his life in prison plus 40 years.

Perez, 45, a Cuban national whose work history included that of a butcher, was convicted as charged last month of the second-degree murder of Alexis Portales-Lara on Nov. 11, 2016. Portales was murdered in the Baylor Place apartment he shared with his lover, a woman who also is a Cuban national and who previously was romantically involved with Perez.

According to trial testimony, Perez hoped to rekindle the relationship, and Portales was in the way.

On the day after he killed Portales, Perez disarticulated the body, stuffed the remains in garbage bags and drove to St. John the Baptist Parish, where he dumped the bags into the swamp near the Reserve Canal off Interstate 10.

For his efforts to conceal his crime, Perez also was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice and was sentenced Thursday to the maximum 40 years in prison.

Portales, a Honduran national, moved to East Jefferson to be close to his young daughter, according to trial evidence.

Portales’ ex-wife provided a statement to the court in lieu of live impact testimony on Thursday, expressing the emotional and financial hardships she and their 5-year-old daughter suffer because of his death.

“With tears in her eyes, she tells me, ‘Mommy, I miss my daddy,’” the mother wrote.

Portales and Perez worked together for a scaffold company in Norco. Portales moved in with Perez’s ex-girlfriend in Kenner. She later allowed Perez to temporarily move in with them after his relationship with another woman ended, according to evidence presented to the jury.

Portales was last seen alive on the evening of Nov. 11, 2016. The Kenner Police Department initially investigated the matter as a missing person’s complaint and found blood in the Baylor Place apartment. That blood was later determined to be Portales’, according to evidence presented during the trial.

Then, on Dec. 29, 2016, a fisherman found a right arm in the Reserve Canal. The following month, pipeline workers who were dredging the canal found the legs and torso. The remains were determined to be Portales, whose head and left arm have not been located.

At trial, the jury heard testimony about Perez sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend in the apartment after Portales went to work. Perez, who denies assaulting the woman, asserted he was defending himself from Portales’ attack. During the scuffle, Perez asserted in trial testimony, Portales stabbed himself in the neck and caused his own death.

Perez testified that the body was too heavy for him to move, so he cut it into pieces. His attorney told jurors that he panicked.

At the end of a six-day trial, a Jefferson Parish jury on March 26 convicted Perez as charged of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.

After denying defense motions for a new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal on Thursday, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court handed down the sentences, which she ran consecutively.

Judge Kovach noted, “I can think of no worse obstruction of justice than that which occurred in this case.”

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.

 

 

Kenner man convicted of killing, dismembering rival in love triangle

Viusqui J. Perez-Espinosa was convicted Monday night (March 26) of murdering his ex-girlfriend’s new lover in Kenner before dismembering the body and dumping the parts in a St. John the Baptist Parish swamp.

Perez, 45, a Cuban national who had worked as a butcher, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Ives Alexis Portales-Lara, 27. A Honduran immigrant who moved to East Jefferson to be near his young daughter, Portales was murdered Nov. 11, 2016, in the Baylor Place apartment he shared with Perez and the woman who was the third leg in their love triangle.

Perez also was convicted of obstruction of justice, for his efforts to conceal his crime. The day after he killed Portales, Perez disarticulated the body, packed the remains in garbage bags, stuffed them in his car’s trunk and drove to St. John the Baptist Parish, where he threw them off the Interstate 10 bridge over the swamps near the Reserve Canal, according to evidence presented during the trial.

“It was the most brutal possible way to die and be disposed of,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told jurors in opening statements.

“I’ve never seen a case when a victim is cut into pieces and thrown away like trash,” Assistant District Attorney Richard Olivier told jurors in closing argument.

According to evidence presented at trial, Perez and Portales were friends and co-workers at a scaffolding company who romanced the same woman. Perez was sexually involved with the woman for about 18 months before the relationship ended in September 2016. Portales moved in with her in her Baylor Place apartment, and a secret romantic relationship began.

Perez, who worked as a fisherman and boat captain in Cuba and as a butcher in Honduras before he migrated to the United States, pined for her affections and wanted Portales out of the picture, according to trial evidence.

With Portales’ blessing, his ex-girlfriend who also is a native of Cuba, allowed Perez to move in with them on Nov. 8, 2016, three days before the murder. Perez, aware of rumors of Portales’ relationship, offered his rival money to move into his own apartment.

On the morning of Nov. 11, 2016, after Portales left for work, Perez allegedly sexually assaulted his former girlfriend in her bed. Portales was last seen alive that evening.

The Kenner Police Department was notified, marking the start of a missing persons investigation. Officers responding to the complaint visited the Baylor Place apartment and noticed blood on the floor.

Using luminol, Kenner police later found blood on a wall, the ceiling and on furniture. Blood also was found in the trunk of Perez’s car. In the meantime, police booked Perez based on his ex-girlfriend’s assertion that he sexually assaulted her.

Later in November 2016, amid the missing persons investigation, the blood from the apartment was determined to belong to Portales, Dr. Marcela Zozaya, a forensic DNA analyst with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, testified. Dr. Zozaya likened the process to a paternity test, by matching the genetic material she extracted from the blood to that of Portales’ daughter.

On Dec. 29, 2016, a fisherman found a right arm in the Reserve Canal. On Jan. 12, 2017, pipeline workers dredging the canal found the legs and torso, according to the testimony. Portales’ head and left arm have not been found. The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office joined the investigation.

Through DNA analysis, Dr. Zozaya determined that the body parts belonged to Portales, she testified. Perez was then booked and subsequently charged with Portales’ murder.

Perez’s attorney asserted that Portales attacked Perez thinking that Perez sexually assaulted his girlfriend, an accusation that Perez denied. Testifying on Monday, Perez told jurors that Portales attacked him with a knife, and during the ensuing struggle, Portales cut his own throat and died as a result. The body was too heavy for him to carry to the trunk of his car, he testified. He refused to describe cutting up the body.

After a six-day trial during which more than 1,200 exhibits were presented by the state, the Jefferson Parish jury deliberated 2 ½ hours before delivering its verdicts. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Perez to a mandatory life sentence in prison on April 26.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.

‘My mother was a wonderful woman,’ daughter writes as dad sentenced to life for her murder

A New Orleans man who was convicted this month of killing his ex-wife in front of their children was sentenced Thursday (Jan. 25) to a mandatory life sentence in prison.

Ronald Mitchell Sr., 39, shot Derice Bailey, 35, in the head and chest as they stood in the kitchen of her Aero Street home on Dec. 2, 2016.

The couple, which was attempting reconciliation, were arguing over Mitchell’s accusations of her infidelity. Her friends went to the home to attempt to mediate the dispute. Mitchell brandished a .38-caliber revolver and ordered the friends out of the house. They called 911.

Their children, then ages 9 and 13, remained inside with their parents, pleading with their father as he shot their mother. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies responding to the 911 call were outside the house and heard the gunshots. Inside, Mitchell put the pistol down, walked out of the house and surrendered, later confessing to his deed, according to trial evidence.

At trial, Mitchell’s attorney argued that it was a case of self-defense, saying a man he could not identify was hiding in the garage.

The jury deliberated less than 15 minutes on Jan. 12, in finding Mitchell guilty as charged of second-degree murder and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The couple’s daughter, who witnessed the homicide with her younger brother, wrote a letter to the court as impact testimony, telling the judge that she loves her mother and father.

“My mother was a wonderful woman. If you met her you would have thought the same thing,” she wrote to 24th Judicial District Judge E. Adrian Adams.

Judge Adams then sentenced Mitchell to the mandatory life sentence for the murder and 20 years for the firearm charge. Judge Adams ran the sentences concurrently.

Mitchell was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a 2003 conviction of the simple robbery of a Metairie business. He received a 5-year prison sentence for that crime.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Molly Massey prosecuted the case.

New Orleans man convicted of murdering his ex-wife in Metairie

A New Orleans man with a history of domestic abuse was convicted Friday (Jan. 12) of killing his ex-wife in her Metairie home, ignoring their young children’s pleas before shooting her in the chest and head.

Ronald Mitchell Sr., 39, faces spending the rest of his life in prison for the second-degree murder of Derice Bailey, 35. Mitchell’s history of domestic violence and drug abuse in the relationship dated to 2007 in both New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, but Bailey repeatedly gave him second chances, according to evidence presented during the trial.

In Bailey’s final days, Mitchell accused her of cheating, a baseless accusation that culminated Dec. 2, 2016, with his shooting her as she stood in the kitchen of her Aero Street home and professed her love for him, according to trial evidence.

“He obsessed about his ex-wife cheating on him. And lo and behold, his ex-wife wasn’t cheating on him. What a tragic, tragic mistake he made,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told jurors in closing argument.

“He looked at her. He aimed at her and he fired. And he fired again. His own words shows intent: ‘If I’m going to jail, I’m going for a reason,’” Assistant District Attorney Molly Massey told jurors. “He wanted this breakup to be the last, and that equals murder.”

Mitchell also was found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, for retrieving a .38-caliber revolver he stashed at a vacant house before going to Bailey’s home. He was prohibited by state law from possessing firearms because of a 2003 conviction of the simple robbery of a Metairie business, for which he received a 5-year prison sentence.

Mitchell and Bailey were divorced. In the months before her death, she and Mitchell were attempting reconciliation. On the night she died, several of her friends went to her home to attempt to mediate the ongoing dispute over his accusations of her infidelity, according to trial evidence.

In the home, Mitchell brandished the revolver and forced the friends out of the house, leading them to call 911. He tried to force out their children, then ages 9 and 13, but they remained with their mother. The children begged their father to not shoot their mother.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived but were unable to get inside the house. The deputies heard the gunshots. Moments later, Mitchell emerged from the house with his arms raised and surrendered, telling the officers he was “tired of her cheating,” Rish said. Deputies found his revolver inside the house.

Mitchell later confessed to Detective Jean Lincoln, telling her that Bailey did not deserve to die as she did.

“He said he loved her to death. He loved her to death,” Rish told jurors, recounting Mitchell’s confession.

At trial, however, Mitchell’s attorney told jurors he was defending himself, suggesting he felt threatened by a man hiding in Bailey’s garage, and that the killing was justified. Mitchell did not testify in his own defense.

At the time he killed Bailey, Mitchell was awaiting trial on charges of domestic abuse battery and making harassing phone calls in Jefferson Parish, both involving his ex-wife as the victim.

The jury of eight women and four men that was seated on Tuesday deliberated 15 minutes before returning with the verdicts at 5 p.m., Friday.

Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Mitchell on Jan. 25.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Molly Massey prosecuted the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waggaman father sentenced to 40 years in prison for teen son’s beating death

A Waggaman man who caused his teenage son’s death through a disciplinary beating over a failing grade at his middle school was sentenced Monday (Nov. 27) to 40 years in prison, the maximum punishment allowed by law for manslaughter.

Furnell Daniel Sr., 45, was held criminally responsible for the death of 14-year-old Jalen Daniel. A Jefferson Parish jury found him guilty of manslaughter on Nov. 18.

Using a length of hardwood that had been a railing on a baby crib, Daniel repeatedly struck his son in their Clifford Court home on Feb. 5, 2016, after the teen returned home from school with an ‘F’ in one course.

Despite his complaints of pain and his urinating and vomiting in his bed, his father did not call 911 until more than 19 hours after the beating, when the teen became unresponsive. He died days later.

Daniel stood trial on a charge of second-degree murder. He admitted to striking his son with the board but denied intentionally killing him.

After denying a defense motion for a new trial, Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court handed down the 40-year sentence, saying in part that he believes Daniel would abuse his other children.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Laura Schneidau prosecuted the case.

 

Waggaman man convicted of causing teen son’s death over ‘F’ class grade

A Waggaman man was convicted of manslaughter early Saturday morning (Nov. 18), for causing his teenage son’s death by beating the middle-school student with a piece of wood as punishment for one failing class grade.

Furnell Daniel Sr., 45, faces up to 40 years in prison for the death of 14-year-old Jalen Daniel. Using about a 4 1/2-foot length of hardwood that had been a railing on a baby crib, Daniel repeatedly beat the teen in their Clifford Court home on Feb. 5, 2016.

Only after the teen vomited and urinated in his bed and then became unresponsive did the father call 911 – more than 19 hours after the beating.

Jalen died from an untreated epidural hemorrhage caused by a blow to his head. In addition to numerous bruises, Jalen suffered from five bone fractures, including his skull, a wrist, a hand and a knee. Jalen suffered three strikes to his head, one of which caused bleeding in the brain cavity that led to heart failure.

Daniel denied intentionally killing his son but admitted in testimony that he paddled the teen “more than once” during the final beating.

Through the beating, prosecutors argued that Daniel committed a second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, which is the felony that led to the teen’s death. As such, Furnell Daniel committed a second-degree murder under the felony-murder doctrine.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated about six hours before returning with the responsive verdict of manslaughter about 1:30 a.m. Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Daniel on Nov. 29.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Laura Schneidau prosecuted the case.