Tag: kenner police department

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.

 

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.”

The week’s round-up: Juries convict in rape, illegal gun cases

Jefferson Parish juries returned two guilty verdicts in unrelated trials this week, including that of a Kenner man who was convicting of raping an intoxicated woman in his car while she was unconscious.

Third-degree rape conviction

Cornelius Williams, 29, was convicted as charged of third-degree rape following a two-day trial that ended Tuesday (Jan. 8). Williams raped a 21-year-old woman on Feb. 19, 2017, while parked in an alley outside his home in the 300 block of Taylor Street.

The victim reported to the Kenner Police Department that she, Williams and another woman were visiting bars in the French Quarter when she passed out because she was intoxicated, according to trial evidence. She said she woke to find herself in the back seat of his car with him having intercourse with her.

She told him to stop, and she passed out again, only to realize Williams was performing oral sex on her, she testified. Williams eventually dropped her off at her home, where she passed out again. Hours later, she woke and went to the Kenner Police Department.

Before the rape occurred, Williams dropped the other woman off at her home. Williams admitted he attempted to have intercourse after performing oral sex, but he did not complete the act.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set the sentencing hearing for Feb. 19.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Convicted felon with firearm case

On Wednesday (Jan. 10), a separate jury found Russell K. Wilson guilty as charged of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Wilson, 36, of Algiers, was legally prohibited from carrying firearms because of a 2010 conviction of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Jefferson Parish.

Yet on June 28, 2017, two Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives, while on a proactive patrol in a high-crime area, smelled marijuana and observed several people loitering outside a closed business near 6th Avenue and Ames Boulevard in Marrero’s Walkertown neighborhood, according to trial testimony.

The detectives noticed Wilson handling his pants in a manner suggesting he had a firearm tucked in the waistband, according to trial evidence. One of the detectives approached Wilson and noted he placed the pistol on top of a tire in a wheel well of a nearby parked vehicle. It was a fully loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol with a bullet in the chamber, according to trial evidence.

In testimony, Wilson denied possessing the gun, suggesting that the detectives randomly sought to question him and planted the weapon. He acknowledged his criminal history, which includes narcotics offenses and a previous guilty plea to attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Wilson on Jan. 25.

Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.

New Orleans man on 4-state crime spree convicted of Kenner armed robbery

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Dec. 13) found a New Orleans man guilty of robbing a Kenner business, part of a crime spree in which he committed similar heists in four states during a three-month period in early 2014.

Steven J. Rodney, 34, was convicted as charged of the armed robbery of the Walmart at 300 West Esplanade Ave., on March 7, 2014.

About 8:30 p.m., Rodney approached a 25-year-old employee working at a check-out register, lifted his shirt to reveal a pistol and then pointed it at her before returning it to his pants waistband, according to the Kenner Police Department. He ordered the employee to escort him to near an exit, where he fled with about $1,500, according to trial evidence.

Rodney arrived in the area on a commercial flight from Las Vegas on March 5, 2014, according to trial evidence. The day after, on March 6, he is accused of robbing the American Apparel store in the 3300 block of Magazine Street in New Orleans. And then, on March 8, 2014, the day after the Kenner robbery, he returned by air to Las Vegas, according to trial evidence.

Kenner and New Orleans police detectives determined that the same suspect committed both crimes. With the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, police identified Rodney as the robber.

In all, between January 2014 and March 2014, Rodney robbed businesses in Colorado, California, Nevada and Kenner and New Orleans, traveling by commercial airlines between the locations to commit the crimes.

Rodney admitted to the Jefferson Parish jury that he committed the crimes to feed his addiction to Oxycodone. He denied using a dangerous weapon, asserting he used a toy gun that shoots rubber projectiles. As such, he asserted he was not guilty of armed robbery.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated about an hour before returning its verdict. Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Rodney on Jan. 8.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.

Vincenzo Randazzo pleads guilty to fatal hammer attack on elderly Kenner couple

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Dec. 3) sentenced Vincenzo “Jake” Randazzo to life in prison with parole eligibility, after he pleaded guilty as charged to attacking an elderly Kenner couple with a hammer, killing the man and injuring his wife.

Randazzo, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in connection with the July 19, 2017, attack on Phillip Lynch Sr., 89, and his 70-year-old wife Anita in their Kenner home. Mr. Lynch died from his injuries caused by blunt force trauma on Aug. 4, 2017.

Randazzo, who had just turned 16 years old at the time, knew the Lynches. The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Randazzo as an adult and filed notice with the court announcing its intention to seek a life sentence without parole eligibility.

However, pursuant to a plea agreement with Randazzo’s public defenders, the District Attorney’s Office withdrew the notice, meaning he will be eligible to apply for parole in 25 years because he is a juvenile.

Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court, in accepting the plea, sentenced Randazzo to life with parole eligibility for the first-degree murder and 25 years for the attempted second-degree murder. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Judge Schlegel sentenced Randazzo after hearing impact testimony from Anita Lynch and three of Mr. Lynch’s five children.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Matthew Whitworth prosecuted the case.

 

Gretna resident convicted of possessing almost 4,000 grams of cocaine

A Jefferson Parish jury has found a Gretna resident guilty of possessing almost 4,000 grams of cocaine, which deputies found in a West Bank storage unit during their investigation of narcotics trafficking that originated in Texas.

The defendant, who uses the name Marvin Acevedo, 35, was convicted as charged Tuesday night (July 10) of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine. At the time of the arrest, Louisiana law did not differentiate the weight once the amount exceeded 400 grams.

Federal authorities say that the defendant had been using, among other aliases, the name of Marvin Acevedo. The real Marvin Acevedo has been jailed on drug charges in Puerto Rico since 2014. The defendant refuses to reveal his identity, according to testimony presented to the jury.

Acevedo was arrested June 19, 2017, during an investigation by Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents. Acting on a tip that Acevedo was smuggling cocaine from Texas to sell in Jefferson Parish, the agents began surveilling the suspect on Interstate 10 at the state border, according to trial testimony.

The agents followed Acevedo’s pick-up truck to Jefferson Parish, where they pulled it over in Kenner. Acevedo and another man, who was not arrested, were in the truck.

With the help of a Kenner Police Department canine, the agents located 12 grams of cocaine in a magnetic key-holding box that was attached to the truck’s undercarriage. The agents also found more than $3,300 in cash inside the truck’s sunglasses compartment.

In Acevedo’s wallet, the agents found a Florida state identification card, approximately one gram of cocaine and information tied to a storage unit facility. The agents tracked the information to a storage facility to a business on Belle Chasse Highway in unincorporated Gretna, only blocks from Acevedo’s apartment. The agents also found in Acevedo’s possession a key to a storage unit lock, according to trial evidence.

After obtaining a search warrant, the agents entered Acevedo’s storage unit. Inside, they found an ice chest in which there were four bricks of cocaine, each weighing one kilogram, according to trial evidence. Each brick could have a local street value of about $150,000, according to testimony.

The agents also found in the ice chest various documents with Acevedo’s name on them. The agents further determined that Acevedo leased the storage unit.

They also recovered several “burner phones,” which according to testimony are commonly used by drug dealers because they aren’t traced to a registered name. The Sheriff’s Office recovered text messages from one of the phones that was indicative of drug dealing activity.

The jury deliberated about 1 ½ hours before reaching its verdict. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Acevedo on Aug. 9.

Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Voss and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.

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.

Avondale man sentenced to life in prison for Kenner couple murders

An Avondale man who was convicted last month of murdering a couple in their Kenner home was sentenced Thursday (Feb. 8) to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Shaun Barnett, 30, received the mandatory sentence for his conviction of two counts of first-degree murder. Barnett killed Dawn Scott, 28, and Raynell Kimbrough, 31, as they lay in their bed of their Idaho Street apartment early on the morning of April 4, 2016.

Barnett, who was friends with the couple, shot Scott in the head, as an infant lay beside her. He then shot Kimbrough in the head and then in his body, according to evidence presented during the trial. On the way out of the second-floor bedroom, he shot Scott once more, in the torso.

A child who was asleep in the home heard the gunshots, saw Barnett run down the stairs and later found the murdered couple. The child escorted his younger brother out of the back door and alerted a neighbor, who investigated and called 911.

Members of the Scott and Kimbrough families wrote letters to the court in lieu of providing live impact testimony, including Kimbrough’s 7-year-old daughter, who said her father’s death has left her “mad and sad.”

“You hurt my heart before anybody else had a chance to,” the child wrote in the letter, which a prosecutor read aloud during the sentencing hearing.

Kenner Police Department officers connected Barnett to the crimes using cell phone data, the license plate recognition system, DNA and other evidence.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Jan. 26 convicted Barnett as charged of two counts of first-degree murder and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Barnett was barred from possessing guns because of numerous convictions of property and narcotics crimes.

After denying defense attorneys’ motion for a new trial Thursday and hearing Barnett proclaim his innocence, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced the man to two life sentences – one for each victim – and to 10 years for the firearms offense. He ran the sentences concurrently.

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

 

Avondale man convicted of murdering Kenner couple in their bed

An Avondale man was convicted Friday night (Jan. 26), of killing a couple as they slept in their bed in Kenner, even as an infant lay between the victims.

Shaun Barnett, 30, faces life in prison for his conviction of two counts of first-degree murder for the April 4, 2016, deaths of Dawn Scott, 28, and Raynell Kimbrough, 31.

The couple was asleep at their apartment in the 2100 block of Idaho Street, when about 6:30 a.m., Barnett entered through the back door. He shot Scott once in the head. Kimbrough woke, and Barnett shot him in the face at close range and in the body. He then shot Scott in her body before leaving the apartment.

A child in the house heard the gunshots and saw Barnett leaving. The child discovered the bodies, walked his brother out to alert a neighbor. That neighbor investigated and called 911.

Police found Scott in bed with the infant to her right. The infant was not injured. Kimbrough was on the floor.

The Kenner Police Department determined Barnett and Kimbrough were friends and had been at a daiquiri shop in Avondale together the night before. Using cell phone data and a license plate recognition system, detectives were able to create a timeline to retrace Barnett’s travels in his gold Ford Taurus, across the Huey P. Long Bridge to Kimbrough’s apartment.

Following an argument with Scott, Barnett departed, only to return to kill the couple. Detectives later found the military-style jacket Barnett was wearing in a hamper at his home, with Kimbrough’s blood on it, DNA testing proved. The detectives also found some of Scott’s belongings in Barnett’s car and at a New Orleans residence, according to testimony.

Barnett denied committing the murders. His attorneys argued that evidence was lacking and the case was not sufficiently investigated.

Barnett also was convicted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was barred from possessing guns because of six previous convictions for narcotics and property crimes in Jefferson Parish.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated just over one hour before delivering its verdict. Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court will sentence Barnett on Feb. 8.

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

Convicted child predator convicted anew of sexually abusing 3 children

A convicted sex offender was once again convicted Thursday night (Nov. 16) of sexually abusing three children in Kenner.

Carlos Alberto Montero Sr., 54, faces life in prison for his conviction of two counts of aggravated rape, sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13, two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile under the age of 13 and failing to register as a sex offender.

He abused two girls and one boy over a five-year period, beginning in 2006. The youngest of the three victims was about 6 years old when she was abused. Another victim was age 7 when Montero began abusing him, and the third victim was 12 years old when it began.

The Kenner Police Department opened an investigation in January 2016, after the step-father of one of the victims found a note she wrote to her deceased father as a form of therapy. In it, she referenced to being sexually abused.

Montero also was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, for failing to notify police when he moved to Kenner from Gretna. He was required to register as a sex offender because of a 2002 conviction of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Following a 4-year prison sentence that ended in 2006, he was to register as a sex offender for 15 years.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before returning its unanimous verdicts about 7 p.m. Judge June Berry Darensberg of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Montero on Jan. 10.

Assistant District Attorneys Joshua Vanderhooft and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.