Tag: rape

Week roundup: New Orleans man pleads to narcotics offense during trial, Honduran man convicted of molesting child

Two Jefferson Parish juries were seated this week for two unrelated trials, with one returning a guilty verdict against a man accused of sexually abusing a child and the other never getting to deliberate because the defendant pleaded guilty as charged.

Louisiana vs. Tyran Jones

Tyran Jones, 26, of New Orleans, received a 20-year prison sentence Wednesday night after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and resisting an officer.

The state presented nine witnesses to jurors and was resting its case when Jones pleaded guilty as charged.

On Jan. 23, 2018, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents arrested Jones on Jefferson Highway near Causeway Boulevard after observing him engaged in a drug transaction, according to trial testimony.

The agents found marijuana on his person and in his car, along with a loaded pistol in his vehicle. After transporting Jones following his arrest, deputies found cocaine and heroin where he was seated in the police unit, according to trial testimony.

Jurors were shown evidence from his cell phone that proved he was engaged in illegal narcotics sales and that he possessed the firearm. He was barred from possessing guns because of previous robbery and narcotics convictions in New Orleans.

After Jones admitted his guilt, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Jones to 20 years for the firearm charge, 15 years for the cocaine charge on a double bill and 20 years for the heroin charge. Judge Faulkner also sentenced Jones to six months resisting an officer and 15 days for the marijuana offense. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittany Beckner and Laura Schneidau prosecuted the case.

Louisiana vs. Edin Melgar

On Thursday night, a jury deliberated about 15 minutes before convicting Edin Melgar, 38, a native of Honduras who lived in Metairie, as charged of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13 and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

Both offenses involved a child who was between the ages of nine and 11 when the abuse ended in September 2018. The child, her mother and their pastor reported the abuse to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 28, 2018, leading to Melgar’s arrest. According to trial testimony, the child disclosed that Melgar threatened to harm her if she told anyone.

Jurors heard that at the time of his arrest, Melgar was wanted in South Carolina on charges of raping a child in that state in 2009. That victim testified Thursday.

Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Melgar on Aug. 19.

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

Man convicted of raping, impregnating 12-year-old girl

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday (May 1) found a man guilty of raping and impregnating a 12-year-old girl in West Jefferson, rejecting the defendant’s assertion that the victim used his discarded condom to cause the pregnancy.

Jose Ivan Moreno Cervantes, 36, who at the time of his arrest resided in Denham Springs, was convicted as charged of first-degree rape of a juvenile under age 13, a crime that carries a mandatory life sentence in prison.

Cervantes raped the girl three times, twice in Westwego and once in his car in Marrero, according to evidence presented during the two-day trial. School officials suspected in late August 2015 that the child was pregnant, a suspicion the mother initially rejected.

However, that same day, a pediatrician confirmed that the victim was 8 ½ months pregnant. She then told authorities that she had been raped by Cervantes, who by this point had vanished from Jefferson Parish. The victim was 12 years old when she gave birth in September 2015.

Police obtained a warrant for Cervantes’ arrest, and a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force apprehended him in July 2016, when the newborn was nine months old, according to evidence presented during the trial.

DNA testing established that Cervantes is the father. Prior to trial, the victim and her mother signed an affidavit at the behest of Cervantes’ family, asserting that the child obtained one of his used condoms and impregnated herself. She later refuted the assertions spelled out in the affidavit, saying she signed it in hopes her child would have a father.

The jury deliberated less than a half-hour in convicting Cervantes. Judge John Molaison of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Cervantes on Monday (May 7).

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Blair Constant prosecuted the case.

 

 

DA’s statement on refusal of rape charge against man who killed wife, Westwego officer

Statement from Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul D. Connick, Jr.:

First and foremost, at this time of horrible tragedy, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Michael Louviere, the family of Simone Veal, and the entire law enforcement community.

Sylvester Holt, Jr. (DOB 8/3/1984) was booked in Jefferson Parish with first-degree rape last year (under JPSO Item No. E-02768-16). The victim who made the rape allegation told authorities that she met the unknown suspect on May 4, 2016, while she was on a street near a bar in New Orleans and willingly got into his vehicle with him believing they were going to his home in Metairie.  However, the victim said he stopped at a location in Metairie and raped her at gunpoint in his car.  After being identified as the suspect and subsequently arrested, Holt denied raping the victim and claimed the sexual encounter was consensual.

In December, JPSO detectives and DA’s Office investigators attempted to locate the victim in New Orleans, to no avail, and the victim did not respond to voice messages left on her cell phone. On the night of Dec. 20, 2016, the victim left a voicemail with, and later sent text messages to a DA’s Office investigator, saying she did not wish to pursue charges.  She was subsequently located and brought to the DA’s Office.  During the course of the interview, she said for the first time she had met Holt on a previous occasion.  She claimed she saw him again on the night of the incident and reiterated the rape allegation, but again insisted that she did not wish to pursue the charges.

A follow-up meeting was scheduled, but she continued to be uncooperative. With assistance from the JPSO, the victim was located and transported to the DA’s Office for the follow-up interview on Dec. 29, 2016.  At that time she remained uncooperative and insisted that charges be dropped.  She requested and signed an affidavit saying she wished to withdraw the charges.

On Jan. 5, 2017, she left a voicemail with a DA’s Office investigator, inquiring about the status of the investigation and reiterated her desire not to pursue charges against Holt. She once again requested that the charges be dropped.

Therefore, after reviewing the evidence, and in light of the victim’s unwillingness to cooperate with the prosecution, the DA’s Office determined there was insufficient evidence to proceed without her participation. As such, the charge was refused two weeks ago, on Jan. 6, 2017.

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Man who raped pregnant Kenner woman sentenced to 25 years in prison

A Tangipahoa Parish man who admitted he broke into a pregnant Kenner woman’s apartment almost daily for a month before raping her in her bedroom was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday (March 18) as a career criminal.

Brandon Watkins, 26, a former Kenner resident who lived in Independence at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty as charged last year to forcible rape and residential burglary in connection with his most recent crimes in 2013.

In announcing the sentence for the rape and burglary, Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court noted “that Mr. Watkins felt he could take what he wanted whenever he wanted.”  Judge Steib also disputed Watkins’s assertion that he didn’t intend to rape the woman, that it “just happened” during the break-in.

“I find his excuse unbelievable,” Judge Steib said in announcing the 25-year sentence for the forcible rape and 12 years for the burglary. Steib ran the sentences concurrently.

Watkins then pleaded guilty to being second offender because of a similar crime he committed in Kenner in 2011. Prosecutors filed the double bill on the forcible rape charge, meaning that Watkins faced 20 years to 80 years in prison as a two-time felon under Louisiana’s habitual offender law.

Prosecutors told the judge that the victim wanted it known that she was pregnant when Watkins raped her, and she was placed in the position of pleading for her safety and that of her unborn child.

Watkins admitted he broke into a woman’s apartment on Clemson Place about 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2013, having done so every day for about a month by entering through a rear window, according to the Kenner Police Department. The woman told authorities she had noticed items moved in the apartment during the period but assumed her son was responsible, unaware that an intruder was entering her home.

On the final break-in, Watkins went to the woman’s bedroom in search of money. She woke up and saw him next to her bed, leading to a struggle and then the rape, according to the arrest report.  The woman told police she pleaded with Watkins, telling him she was pregnant and asking him to use a condom.  He refused to use a condom, she said. After raping the woman, he fled without stealing anything.

Authorities linked Watkins to the crime through his DNA he left at the scene during the rape, according to the arrest report. Watkins’s DNA profile already was included in a database managed by the Louisiana State Police, leading to the match.

Police arrested him on Oct. 13, 2013, after confirming Watkins was, in fact, the DNA donor. During the interview in Kenner, Watkins confessed that he entered the woman’s apartment through a back window almost every day for a month.

He pleaded guilty as charged forcible rape and burglary on Aug. 24. In seeking double-offender status on Friday, prosecutors relied on Watkins’s 2012 guilty plea to burglary of an inhabited dwelling, for which he had been sentenced to two years in prison.

In that crime, Watkins broke into a woman’s apartment on Curtis Avenue in Kenner on Dec. 11, 2011, by climbing through a window, police said. He hid in the woman’s bedroom.  She later was in bed when she heard a noise about 4:48 a.m., looked over and saw Watkins crawling on the floor, according to the arrest report.

Watkins jumped to his feet and asked her to not call police before he ran out without stealing anything. He was linked to that crime by his fingerprints, police said.  At the time, Watkins lived on Lesan Street in Kenner, two streets over from Curtis Avenue, police said.

In accepting the guilty plea last year for the rape and burglary, Judge Steib ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The state probation and parole office investigates and makes sentencing recommendations to guide judges in their decisions, but those recommendations are not disclosed publicly.

In addition to the 25-year sentence he received Friday, Watkins will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life when he is released from prison, court records show.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.

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