Tag: homicide

Irwin Gomez-Colon sentenced to life for brutal 2017 stabbing, strangulation murder

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Jan. 6) sentenced Irwin Gomez-Colon to a mandatory life sentence in prison for brutally stabbing and strangling a woman to death in her Terrytown apartment after raping her.

Gomez-Colon, 34, a native of Honduras, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Nancy Yahaira Gomez Rodriguez, 33, a mother of two sons who died April 22, 2017, in the 2100 block of Empire Place.

She had been stabbed 24 times in her back and was strangled, according to evidence presented at trial. Gomez-Colon’s DNA obtained from his blood and a condom found at the scene linked him to the crime. A jury unanimously found him guilty on Dec. 5.

Through a letter written as impact testimony and read aloud in court Monday, Rodriguez’s family said she immigrated from the Dominican Republic in 2004 in search of a better life in the United States. She had a son who lived with her in Terrytown and an older son who lives in the Dominican Republic, the family said.

After denying a defense motion for a new trial, Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court called Gomez-Colon’s actions “horrendous.” Speaking through an interpreter, Gomez-Colon protested the conviction, saying he is innocent.

Judge Brindisi said the evidence shows otherwise and sentenced Gomez-Colon to life in prison at hard labor without parole, probation or suspension of sentence. “Mr. Colon, good luck. You’re going where you need to be,” Judge Brindisi said.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Rushton, Schiffman receive ‘excellence’ award for double-murder prosecution

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman were among the recipients of the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s Excellence in Law Enforcement Awards. Members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and Kenner Police Department also received the award.

 

The Metropolitan Crime Commission on Tuesday (Feb. 5) recognized assistant district attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman for the prosecution of an Avondale man who was convicted last year of a double murder in Kenner.

Rushton and Schiffman were presented 2019 Excellence in Law Enforcement awards during the commission’s annual meeting and awards luncheon, held at the Sheraton in downtown New Orleans.

A Jefferson Parish jury in January 2018 convicted Shaun Barnett of two counts of first-degree murder for the April 4, 2016 deaths of Dawn Scott, 28, and Raynell Kimbrough, 31. The couple was in bed in their Kenner home early on the morning of April 4, 2016, when Barnett shot them. A child in the house heard the gunfire and escorted his younger brother outside; police found an uninjured infant on the bed next to Scott.

Barnett has been sentenced to life in prison.

Louisiana State Police investigator Leland “Corky” Dwight, Kenner Police Department Detective Harold P. Pendergast, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dennis Thornton and the JPSO Crime Laboratory staff also received the award for their work in solving the double-murder.

The commission presents the awards in recognition of those who “performed extraordinary service” to criminal justice. The awardees have “a record of continuity and consistency of service and shall reflect the admirable quality of integrity, both personal and professional.”