Tag: narcotics

Corey Woods sentenced to life plus 50 years for Metairie triple-murder, heroin distribution

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Jan. 7) sentenced Corey Woods to three life sentences, for his convictions of killing three people as they sat in a car two years ago. His victims included a 16-year-old girl, whom he shot in the back of her head as she tried to escape the gunfire.

Woods, 33, of Metairie, was convicted as charged in November of three counts of second-degree murder and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, in connection with the Jan. 17, 2017 triple-homicide in the 1400 block of South Laurel Street.

A Jefferson Parish jury found that Woods killed Malcolm Wallace, 25, of Metairie, and then shot Wallace’s girlfriend Daneka Lott, 24, of Kenner; and Wallace’s teenage sister Monica Bates, of Metairie, because they were witnesses, according to trial evidence.

According to evidence presented at trial, Woods, sitting in the rear seat of a 2006 Honda Accord, shot his intended target Wallace, who was in the front passenger seat. He also shot Lott, the driver, and Bates as she attempted to exit the rear passenger-side door. A combination of witness interviews and business surveillance video led the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to identify Woods as the killer.

After denying a defense post-verdict motion for an acquittal and hearing impact testimony from two of the victims’ family members, 24th Judicial District Judge Donnie Rowan sentenced Woods to three life sentences and 20 years for the firearm offense. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Judge Rowan separately resentenced Woods to a total of 50 years in prison for his February 2018 convictions of three counts of distribution of heroin. Those crimes occurred in January 2017, the same month during which Woods committed the three murders.

Judge Rowan ran the 50-year sentence consecutively to the life sentences given in the triple-homicide case.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the murder case.

Teddy Chester convicted anew of murdering Kenner cabbie John Adams in 1995

A Jefferson Parish jury on Monday night (Nov. 5) found Teddy Chester guilty of killing a cab driver in East Jefferson 23 years ago, bringing to two the number of times he has been convicted of the same crime.

Chester, 40, is guilty as charged of second-degree murder for the Dec. 27, 1995 killing of John Adams, 34, who was a driver for a Kenner-based taxi cab company. He was killed during a botched armed robbery that Chester and co-defendant Elbert Ratcliff planned, prosecutors argued in the trial that began last week.

“This is not a planned murder,” Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rushton told jurors in closing argument Monday. “This is a planned armed robbery during which the homicide occurred.”

“This was a senseless killing, a senseless murder of John Adams,” Assistant District Attorney Lynn Schiffman told jurors Monday. “He was working his job, just like everybody else does every day.”

Mr. Adams was shot once in the back of his head while in the driver’s seat of his taxi, after he responded to a 4 a.m. dispatch to the 700 block of Calhoun Street, according to trial testimony. The area of East Jefferson near River Ridge is known among local law enforcement for its narcotics distribution activities and is called “The Dump.”

About two hours after the dispatch, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies who responded to a report about an abandoned vehicle found Mr. Adams’ body in the driver’s seat. The cab’s engine was still running, and the vehicle itself had left the roadway. The cab’s contents were strewn about inside and outside the vehicle, according to testimony. Deputies still found cash on Mr. Adams’ body, which was indicative of a botched armed robbery.

Detectives linked Ratcliff, then 25, to the murder after finding his thumb prints on two of Mr. Adams’ business cards, one inside the car and one outside, according to testimony. Questioned by Detective Ralph Sacks, Ratcliff named Chester as his cohort and the shooter, according to testimony.

During his trial in 1997, Ratcliff was convicted as charged of second-degree murder for his role in the crime. He is serving a life sentence in state prison.

After arresting Chester, detectives found in his apartment a cap and jeans with blood on them. The DNA profile obtained from the cap was consistent with a mixture of Mr. Adams and Mr. Chester, according to testimony. DNA analysts were unable to obtain a genetic profile from the blood on jeans.

During his interrogation 23 years ago, Chester admitted to Detective Sacks that he was in the cab, but only because he was trying to sell fake narcotics. He blamed Ratcliff for killing Mr. Adams, although he admitted to his then-girlfriend that he pointed the pistol to the back of the cabbie’s head when it accidentally fired, according to testimony.

In 1997, Chester was convicted as charged of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death for the crime. However, in June 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Susie Morgan of the Eastern District of Louisiana, in presiding over Chester’s federal habeas corpus proceedings, ordered a new trial. She ruled that Chester’s original trial attorney committed several errors that deprived him of his constitutional right to effective representation.

Instead of appealing Judge Morgan’s ruling, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office opted to retry Chester, albeit on a charge of second-degree murder. The offense carries a punishment of life in prison without probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Chester, who did not testify, continued to maintain his innocence and accused Ratcliff of being the killer. The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated about 1 ½ hours before returning with its unanimous verdict.

Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court set Chester’s sentencing for 9:30 a.m., on Nov. 15.

(UPDATE: Judge Kovach on Nov. 15 granted Chester’s attorneys’ request to continue the sentencing. The new sentencing date is Dec. 12).

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

Avondale man sentenced as triple-offender after Metairie home invasion conviction

A judge on Monday (Oct. 22) handed a 45-year prison sentence to an Avondale man, whose criminal history includes narcotics offenses and whose latest conviction was for a Metairie home invasion that left a man critically injured.

Damon Stephney, 40, was found to be a triple felony offender under Louisiana’s habitual offender law by retired Judge pro tempore Michael Kirby, who was serving a temporary appointment to the 24th Judicial District Court’s Division E seat when he presided over Stephney’s trial last month.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 21 found Stephney guilty as charged of aggravated burglary, for being one of the men who on March 5, 2017 forced their way into a home in the 400 block of Oaklawn Drive, just north of Interstate 10.

The boyfriend of the homeowner was shot twice in the back as he fled up Oaklawn. “Never have I been so terrified in my life,” he told Judge Kirby in impact testimony on Monday.

For the aggravated burglary, Judge Kirby sentenced Stephney to 30 years in prison. He vacated that sentence after finding that prosecutors met their burden of proving Stephney is a triple offender and resentenced him to 45 years.

In explaining his reasons for the 30-year sentence, Judge Kirby noted in part that Stephney enlisted his sons to participate in the crime. His sons, Wendell Garcia, 20, of Algiers, and Damon Garcia, 23, of Avondale, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the crime, to aggravated burglary and accessory after the fact to aggravated burglary, respectively.

On Monday, Wendell Garcia pleaded guilty to being a second felony offender under the state’s habitual offender law. Judge pro tempore Chuck Credo, also serving a temporary appointment to the Division E seat, resentenced Garcia to 30 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Seth Shute prosecuted the case.

Avondale man convicted of Metairie home invasion

A Jefferson Parish jury Friday night (Sept. 21) found Damon Stephney guilty as charged of the aggravated burglary of a Metairie home last year, a crime in which a victim was shot twice in the back as he fled. The verdict brings to three the number of convictions reached in the crime to date.

Stephney, 40, of Avondale, was one of two masked gunmen who forced their way into a home in the 400 block of Oaklawn Drive on the night of March 5, 2017, and ordered three residents to their knees in an attempt to rob the victims.

The partner of the homeowner, also a victim, escaped the home and was shot twice, in the back and in an arm, as he ran for help up Oaklawn Drive toward Veterans Memorial Boulevard, according to trial testimony. He survived.

Two of Stephney’s sons, Wendell Garcia, 20, of Algiers, and Damon Garcia, 23, of Avondale, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the crime. A fourth defendant awaits his trial.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office later found narcotics in the possession of two of the Oaklawn home’s residents, who rented rooms from the homeowner. One was booked and later pleaded guilty, and the other was given a misdemeanor summons. The narcotics were believed to be the reason Stephney and the others targeted the home.

Stephney denied being involved and fainted upon hearing the jury’s verdict, which was rendered after less than an hour of deliberation. Stephney was taken to a local hospital by ambulance.

Retired Plaquemines Parish Judge Michael Kirby, appointed pro tempore to the 24th Judicial District Court’s Division E seat, set Stephney’s sentencing hearing for Oct. 22.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Seth Shute prosecuted the case.

Gretna resident sentenced to 20 years, fined $50,000 in cocaine possession case

A Jefferson Parish judge has sentenced a former Gretna resident to 20 years in prison for the almost 4,000 grams of cocaine he was found to possess during an investigation into narcotics trafficking from Texas. The cocaine in total had a $600,000 local street value.

Marvin Acevedo, 35, also was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine in connection with his July 10 conviction of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Acevedo on Monday (Aug. 13), after denying a defense request for a new trial and other post-verdict motions.

Evidence presented during the trial shows that Acevedo is using the name of a man who is currently imprisoned in Puerto Rico on narcotics charges. Acevedo refuses to reveal his true identity.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents arrested Acevedo on June 19, 2017, during an investigation into a tip that he was trafficking cocaine into the area from Texas. According to evidence presented to the jury, the agents tracked Acevedo from the Louisiana state line at Texas on Interstate 10 and followed him to Kenner, where they arrested him.

The agents located 12 grams of cocaine and more than $3,300 in cash in the vehicle in which he traveled. They also found he used a Florida state identification card. The investigation led the agents to a storage unit business on Belle Chasse Highway near Gretna, blocks from where he lived at the time.

In his unit, the agents found almost 4,000 grams of cocaine bundled in four bricks, all of which were stashed in an ice chest along with documents with Acevedo’s name on them. Each brick would have a local street value of about $150,000, according to trial testimony. Text messages recovered from a cell phone in Acevedo’s possession were indicative of narcotics trafficking.

Additionally, Judge Kovach on Aug. 9 sentenced Acevedo to six months in jail after finding him guilty of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. She ran the jail term concurrent with the 20-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Voss and Rachel Africk 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.

Texas man sentenced to 20 years for possession, conspiracy to distribute 50 pounds of cocaine

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (July 28) sentenced Miguel Angel Garcia Jr., to 20 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute 50 pounds of cocaine that federal and local authorities found concealed in modified vehicle gas tank.

Garcia, 44, of Laredo, Texas, was convicted as charged by a Jefferson Parish jury on June 14 of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. This charges stem from his arrest on March 3, 2016, outside a motel in the 2400 block of Clearview Parkway in Metairie.

Acting on a tip, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies surveilled the motel and observed Garcia and Misael Cardenas-Sanchez, with a pick-up truck and an attached trailer on which an inoperable Chevrolet Trailblazer was set.

The Trailblazer’s gasoline tank was modified to store the cocaine, according to evidence presented at trial. All told, the authorities recovered 20 bricks of cocaine

Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Garcia to 20 years for the possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and 15 years for the conspiracy offense. She ran the sentences concurrently.

Sanchez, now age 19, pleaded guilty to those same offenses on Jan. 25 and received a 15-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Texas man convicted of possessing, conspiracy to distribute 50 pounds of cocaine

A Jefferson Parish jury convicted a Texas man Thursday (June 14) of his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than 50 pounds of cocaine, which federal and local authorities seized while arresting him two years ago outside a Metairie motel.

Miguel Angel Garcia Jr., 44, of Laredo, was convicted as charged of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which authorities believe was smuggled into the United States from Mexico. The cocaine had a wholesale value of more than $600,000 – with a street value of double or thrice that amount, according to trial evidence.

“This is more dope than any one of us could consume in a lifetime and survive,” Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese, who prosecuted Garcia with Jennifer Voss, told jurors in closing argument, pointing to the 20 bricks of cocaine displayed on a table in the courtroom.

Acting on a tip, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives on March 3, 2016 surveilled a motel in the 2400 block of Clearview Parkway, just off Interstate 10, according to evidence presented during the two-day trial.

The agents observed Garcia and Misael Cardenas-Sanchez, who was then 17, arrive in and then park a pick-up truck attached to a trailer, according to testimony. On the trailer was an inoperable Chevrolet Trailblazer whose gasoline tank was modified to store the cocaine, according to trial evidence.

Neither suspect claimed ownership of the cocaine upon their arrests. However, Sanchez, now 19, pleaded guilty as charged to possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine on Jan. 25. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Garcia continued to deny criminal involvement, saying he believed he was merely transporting a vehicle.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before reaching its verdict. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Garcia on June 28.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Harvey man convicted of teen’s Woodmere murder

A Jefferson Parish jury decided Friday night (June 8) that Ivory Franklin II killed a teen as they walked along a Harvey drainage canal two years ago, firing a bullet into the back of the victim’s head before unleashing more bullets on the 15-year-old witness who ran through the murky water as he fled for his life.

Franklin, 20, of Harvey, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Reginald Black, 18, who died in the early morning hours of May 5, 2016. Franklin, who was 18 years old at the time of the crime, also was convicted of the attempted second-degree murder of the 15-year-old, who was Black’s nephew and was able to escape without physical injury.

Just before 3 a.m., on the day of the homicide, the three teens were walking on the concrete embankment of the canal behind homes on Windmere Court, just south of Post Street in Harvey’s Woodmere subdivision. Black walked ahead of Franklin and didn’t see his death coming, according to evidence presented during the trial. Armed with a revolver, Franklin fired a bullet into the back of Black’s head.

“He didn’t deserve to die at age 18,” Assistant District Attorney Andrew DeCoste, who prosecuted Franklin with Lynn Schiffman, told jurors. “He didn’t deserve to be killed by this man (Franklin), who he thought was his friend. He didn’t deserve to die on a canal bank.”

After seeing the uncle whom he considered a brother shot dead, the 15-year-old boy ran, plunging into the canal to make his escape and running to the first home he saw that had lights on. He banged on the front door, pleading with the resident inside for help.

The resident refused to open the door but called 911, according to trial testimony. The boy then ran to the first Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy to arrive and, crying, rushed the officer to Black’s body, according to testimony. The revolver Franklin used has not been recovered.

They found Black lying face-down on the sloped concrete surface, his blood flowing from his head down the embankment to the canal water. Deputies later discovered a strike mark in the concrete embankment, left from one of the bullets that Franklin fired at the 15-year-old as he ran away, according to trial evidence.

In testimony Friday, Franklin denied killing Black and pointed blame to the 15-year-old, whom he said was “hyper” after smoking marijuana and involved in horseplay with a pistol. Franklin said the boy pointed the pistol at his head, and when he swatted it away, it fired, leading to Black’s death.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated approximately two hours Friday before delivering its verdict.

Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Franklin to a mandatory life sentence in prison on Aug. 3.

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

With an apology, Harvey defendant pleads guilty to killing Shamarie Joseph

As jury selection was about to begin in his trial, an apologetic Romalis Levier pleaded guilty Tuesday (April 24) to inadvertently causing the death of a 15-year-old girl while he was shooting at a rival on a Harvey street.

Levier, 20, of Harvey, accepted the maximum 40-year prison sentence in pleading guilty to manslaughter for the Dec. 22, 2015, death of Shamarie Joseph. She was inside an apartment in the 1600 block of Apache Drive, holding a toddler, when a bullet Levier fired at a teenager on the street punched through a wall and struck her in the chest.

Shamarie’s mother gave tearful impact testimony, telling the court that her daughter was an athletic teen who aspired to be a gynecologist or pediatrician. She stood at the witness seat in the courtroom Tuesday and faced Levier as he sat nearby at the defense table. Levier stood and faced her.

“I forgive you,” she told Levier through her weeping. “I don’t hold no grudges in my heart. I forgive you, but I will never forget, because she is never coming back.”

Shamarie’s aunt also provided impact testimony, telling the court about her pain and reiterating that their family carries no grudges. “We just want to know why. Why? Why there?” she said of the shooting.

Levier later read a prepared statement, in which he offered his apologies to Shamarie’s mother. “I hope you forgive me,” he told Shamarie’s mother.

Seated in the audience by this point during the plea hearing, she responded, “I forgive you.”

Levier was involved in an ongoing dispute with another group of individuals when he opened fire on Emmett Garrison IV in retaliation for a Dec. 9, 2015, shooting in Marrero. Garrison, who since has been convicted of a slew of crimes, was struck by one of the bullets.

For that, Levier pleaded guilty as charged Tuesday to attempted second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Levier also pleaded guilty as charged to obstruction of justice, for which he received a 40-year sentence; conspiracy to obstruct justice, for which he received a 30-year sentence; and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of Tramadol, for which he was sentenced to 30 years and five years, respectively.

In accepting the plea, Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court ran the sentences concurrently, for a total of 40 years.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Blair Constant prosecuted the case.