Month: March 2016

Westwego man sentenced to 15 years in prison in Metairie aggravated burglary

A Westwego man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday (March 17), for being one of three men posing as construction workers who forced their way into a Metairie home, beat one of the women who resided there and stole their money.

Terry McCall Jr., 29, pleaded guilty as charged to aggravated burglary in connection with the Oct. 14 crime in the 3500 block of Bissonet Drive. The crime carries a sentencing range of one to 30 years in prison.

McCall, who carried a chainsaw, and two cohorts went to the home about 11:20 a.m., asserting they were there to do work. When the woman who answered the door said she needed no work, the men pushed their way inside. They beat and kicked her and stole money.

McCall did not participate in the beating. He went to another room with the woman’s roommate, tried to console her and told her they would not hurt her. A witness to the burglary in progress called 911, leading two suspects to flee from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office responders.

Deputies found McCall hiding under a bed in the house. He later confessed, according to the Sheriff’s Office. At the time, he was on parole through 2018 for a narcotics conviction.

In court Thursday, John Herrin, whose 62-year-old mother was beaten in the attack, called McCall’s actions “reprehensible,” he said in impact testimony. He said his mother suffers from “a host of physical disabilities,” including rotator cuff ailments caused by years of cleaning hotel rooms. As such, he said, his mother couldn’t raise her arms.

“When y’all began to punch her, she couldn’t defend herself,” Herrin testified. “Here you guys come, to take advantage of and beat a sick, disabled woman. That is about as cowardly and lowly as you can get. That’s okay. I know my mother will bounce back.”

McCall, dressed in orange jail clothing and chained to other inmates, apologized to Hemin. “I just like to say I apologize,” he said. “I didn’t lay hands on your mother.”

Hemin directed McCall to apologize to his mother, who sat in the audience with other family members. “If I could take it back, I would take it back,” McCall told her.

The mother responded: “God bless you, baby.”

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the negotiated plea agreement, then sentenced McCall to 15 years in prison. Judge Enright said he would “recommend strongly” to the state Department of Corrections that it provide him with any assistance available, including getting a GED and substance abuse treatment.

“It is through the victims’ generosity that you are being afforded that,” Judge Enright told him.

Ronald Bowman, 37, of Marrero, and Allen Narcisse, 37, of Kenner, await their trials. Bowman is charged with aggravated burglary. Narcisse is charged with aggravated burglary, resisting arrest by force or violence and aggravated assault with a motor vehicle on a police officer.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai is prosecuting the cases.

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Terrebonne Parish man pleads guilty as charged to murdering girlfriend on Grand Isle

A Terrebonne Parish man pleaded guilty as charged Tuesday (March 15) to the second-degree murder of his girlfriend, admitting he stabbed her 44 times all over her body during an argument on Grand Isle.

Randy Paul Marcel, 29, of Chauvin, pleaded guilty knowing he would automatically be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. He admitted he killed his girlfriend of two years, Jennifer Dozier, also of Chauvin, during the June 21, 2014, crime.

Dozier, 34, whose left leg had been amputated because of injuries sustained in an automobile accident, died about 10 p.m. Police found her body near her aluminum crutches in the grassy parking area near the beach at Cypress Lane and Louisiana 1.

Marcel, Dozier, her 2-year-old son and a friend and his cousin were visiting Grand Isle for the weekend when the couple argued over an array of reasons. Marcel knocked her to the ground during an argument over her having his cigarettes.

She got up and was walking to their vehicle, saying she was calling police, when Marcel attacked her with a blue-handle fillet knife he purchased days earlier. Marcel’s cousin and their third friend witnessed the attack, and Dozier’s child also was nearby.

Dozier’s mother, Patricia Killingsworth, testified during the sentencing hearing that she hears her grandson, now 4, cry every night for his mother.

”I cannot begin to tell anyone the heartache and the pain that I suffer every night, every day without her,” Killingsworth testified. “She was far from perfect, but she was mine. She was my daughter.”

Marcel wept quietly during the sentencing hearing but said nothing to the members of Dozier’s family that traveled to the Jefferson Parish Courthouse in Gretna from Terrebonne Parish to witness the sentencing.

Dozier suffered 10 stab wounds to her head, two of which punctured her brain; 24 wounds to her trunk; five to her neck; and three defensive wounds on her hands, among other injuries. She received at least one stab wound after she died, according to the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office.

Marcel ran after the attack. A nearby resident saw the police searching the area and noticed Marcel hiding in tall grass near the end of Cypress Lane. The resident alerted police, leading to Marcel’s arrest. Marcel gave detectives three statements, initially saying he blacked out and remembered nothing. He finally confessed, but he recalled only stabbing Dozier twice in self-defense, he told Sgt. Travis Eserman, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detective who led the investigation.

Marcel, who has been jailed since his arrest, was to stand trial this week for second-degree murder. He sat in 24th Judicial District Court Judge Lee Faulkner’s courtroom dressed for trial, but entered the guilty plea before the first panel of prospective jurors was escorted to court.

Judge Faulkner then agreed to postpone the sentencing for several hours, to give Dozier’s family time to travel from Terrebonne Parish.

Dozier, a native of Laurel, Miss., left three children behind. She dated Marcel about two years, but he fathered none of her children. Last year, her brother, Adam Dozier, was held in contempt of court and fined $100 for punching Marcel in the face as he was escorted into the courtroom for a pretrial hearing.

“I’ve tried to be strong through this for my other children,” Killingsworth testified. “To them I apologize, because I haven’t been there for them. Because I was trying to grieve for my daughter. My life will never, ever be the same, and understand that. I’m just trying to move on.”

The last time a Jefferson Parish defendant pleaded guilty as charged second-degree murder was in 2011, when Mark Sonnier, stopped his trial just after a prosecutor finished her opening statements during his trial.

Sonnier admitted he killed a Metairie man with a brass lap in the man’s home during a home invasion. In pleading guilty, Sonnier told the court he pleaded guilty as charged to spare the victims’ families of having to sit through the trial. Faulkner presided over that case, too.

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

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Convicted child rapist sentenced to two life terms in prison

A Harvey man was sentenced to two life sentences plus 45 years in prison on Thursday (March 10), for his conviction of raping and sexually abusing a girl over a two-year period, beginning when she was 11 years old.

Clifton Raye, 48, was convicted as charged on March 1 of two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of sexual battery and one count of oral sexual battery.

The abuse occurred over a two-year period beginning in 2010 and were disclosed in 2013, when the child was 13 years old. He performed sexual acts on the child and had her do the same to him, according to trial testimony.

The state Department of Child and Family Services initiated the investigation after receiving an anonymous report, according to trial testimony. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office continued the investigation, leading to Raye’s arrest.

Raye had been incarcerated awaiting his trial since his 2013 arrest in lieu of a $1.15 million bond. He waived a trial by jury, leading it to Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court to weigh the evidence during the daylong trial.

In announcing his verdicts, Judge Faulkner said he found the victim’s testimony to be “credible,” and Raye’s assertions to be “incredible.”

On Thursday, Judge Faulkner sentenced Raye to two mandatory life sentences for the aggravated rapes, 25 years for one count of sexual battery, 10 years for the second sexual battery count and 10 years for the oral sexual battery. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Raye denied the charges and testified that the girl’s accusations were “coerced.” He said nothing during the sentencing hearing.

Assistant District Attorney David Wheeler and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.

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Metairie man convicted of raping young girl, faces life in prison

A Metairie man was convicted Friday night (March 4) of sexually abusing a girl over a 4-year period, starting when she was 8 years old.

Simon Shokr, 44, faces a mandatory life sentence in prison for his conviction of aggravated rape, sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

The jury deliberated about 1 ½ hours before delivering its verdict at 11:35 p.m., ending the 3-day trial. Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court set sentencing for March 23.

The victim, who is now 16, is not being identified. The abuse began in 2008, when she was a student at a Metairie elementary school. Shokr, who was acquainted the child’s family, abused the girl without her mother’s knowledge, telling the child to tell no one.

“She didn’t tell for a very long time,” Assistant District Attorney Rachel Africk, who prosecuted with Assistant District Attorney Lynn Schiffman, told the Jefferson Parish jury in opening statements on Thursday.

An assistant principal at her elementary school described the girl as “one of our go-to students,” saying she was “very respectful” to teachers and was assigned to the safety patrol to help younger students.

“At a point in the fifth grade, there was a drastic change in her behavior and demeanor,” the assistant principal testified. “She went from a go-to student to a student who had to be disciplined. She had never been disciplined before. … It was a life change. It was drastic. It was huge.”

The child would not talk about what led to her behavioral changes, so the assistant principal said she alerted teachers to watch for her to determine whether she was bullied. The assistant principal also said she contacted the child’s mother, asking her to be vigilant in watching her.

The girl remained quiet about the abuse until she reached high school, where she disclosed it to two classmates, prosecutors said. Those students told a teacher, who had a mandatory obligation to report the allegation. That led to the investigation by the state and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Shokr, a businessman and native of Beirut, Lebanon who immigrated to the United States in 1989, denied the accusations. He asserted the girl fabricated the story because of upheaval in her family.

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Jacoby Maize convicted of murder, arson, gun charges and brutalizing his wife

Jacoby Maize was convicted Friday (March 4) of repeatedly brutalizing his wife and of fatally shooting an acquaintance in his Old Jefferson home on the day after Easter Sunday in 2011, then returning to the crime scene the following day to set the house on fire.

Maize, 38, of Kenner, faces a mandatory life sentence in prison for the most serious of his seven charges: The April 25, 2011 second-degree murder of Justin Hendricks Jr., 34, who was shot and bled to death in his home in the 100 block of Maine Street.

The shooting happened after Hendricks anonymously called 911 to report that Maize pistol-whipped his wife in the Maine Street house. Maize shot him once in the hip, the bullet severing a femoral artery before exiting his body.

The jury also found Maize guilty of aggravated arson, for dousing Hendrick’s house with gasoline the day after the killing and igniting it in an attempt to destroy evidence. Expert testimony indicated that Maize’s fire endangered the lives of the residents in a neighboring house.

Maize additionally was convicted of aggravated second-degree battery, witness intimidation and aggravated assault with a firearm, all of which involved his wife.

The jury heard testimony about Maize shooting at her, pistol-whipping her, slicing her left cheek with a knife and ordering her to “kiss the ground” before beating her with a baseball bat. He threatened to kill her family if she told anyone he shot Hendricks.

Maize is “nothing but a low and cowardly abuser of women,” Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Truhe, told jurors in opening statements.

Additionally, Maize was found guilty of two counts of convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Because of his criminal history, Maize was barred from having guns and yet used one to beat his wife and to shoot Hendricks, prosecutors said. In testimony Friday, Maize indirectly admitted he possessed a Glock pistol “every day” during the period Hendricks was killed, in denying he had the gun used in the homicide.

The jury deliberated just over an hour in finding Maize guilty as charged of all seven counts. He showed no reaction. Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court will hand down the punishment March 28.

Maize denied all but the firearm possession charges. He accused his wife of killing Hendricks. He assailed the myriad witnesses who testified against him, including the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives who investigated and arrested him, Rhonda Goff and Sgt. Eddie Klein.

“All of your witnesses are liars, proven liars,” Maize told Freese during the cross-examination. “I’m like, you brought a bunch of liars.”

The jury also heard testimony from a Jefferson Parish man who said Maize shot him for no reason other than that he said hello to his wife on the morning of Easter Sunday 2011. That shooting happened at Tchoupitoulas and Upperline streets in Uptown New Orleans, when Maize, his wife, the man and two others were driving in Maize’s vehicle.

The man was able to get out of Maize’s vehicle and run. He said he was struck by three bullets before a he ran into the path of a truck that struck him, breaking one of his leg bones.

Maize’s wife, who was sleeping in their vehicle when her husband shot the man, testified she endured daily abuse but never called police or left the relationship.

“I wanted to be loved,” she testified. “I thought that was love. I thought I could get no better. I thought I found someone who wanted me and held my hand. So I stayed.”

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Harvey man convicted of raping girl over 2-year period, faces life in prison

A Harvey man faces spending the rest of his life in prison for his conviction Tuesday (March 1) of raping a child during a two-year period beginning when she was 11 years old.

Clifton Raye, 48, gave no reaction when learning of the verdict: Guilty as charged of two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of sexual battery and one count of oral sexual battery.

“The court finds the testimony of the victim in this matter to be extremely credible,” 24th Judicial District Court Judge Lee Faulkner said in announcing the verdict just before 5 p.m.

Judge Faulkner, who presided over the daylong trial without a jury, described Raye’s testimony as “incredible.” The judge said he will hand down the mandatory life sentence on March 10.

Raye was accused of performing sexual acts on the child, and having her do the same to him, before the allegations were disclosed in 2013 when she was 13 years old. The victim, now age 16, is not being identified.

The state Department of Child and Family Services received an anonymous report of the abuse, investigated it and contacted the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, prosecutors said. Doctors at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans found no physical evidence of sexual abuse, leaving only testimony.

Raye denied it and said the victim had been “coerced” into wrongly accusing him of rape.

Assistant District Attorneys David Wheeler and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.

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District Attorney’s Office, Jefferson Parish public schools team up for ‘Restorative Justice’

Lauren Trout, a restorative practices school specialist at the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office, discusses the program for the parish's Children and Youth Planning Board during its meeting on Jan. 26, 2016. (JPDA photo)
Lauren Trout, a restorative practices school specialist at the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office, discusses the program for the parish’s Children and Youth Planning Board during its meeting on Jan. 26, 2016. (JPDA photo)


West Jefferson High School is in its first year of using a program designed to resolve conflicts among its students, from the incidental classroom clashes to the gang-like rivalries that spill over onto the Harvey campus.

But already, Assistant Principal John Kulakowski says, “restorative practices approach” has had a “tremendous” effect at the institution. Fewer students are being suspended or expelled, because a newly trained facilitator is guiding warring students and their families to confront their disputes in face-to-face settings called “talking circles” or “community circles.”

The goal is to not only keep students in school and out of the juvenile criminal justice system, but to teach them conflict resolution. In the school setting, it also allows teachers and administrators to tend to other pressing issues instead of being mired in disciplinary actions, Kulakowski said.

“It does work, if done properly,” Kulakowski told the Jefferson Parish Children and Youth Planning Board during its Jan. 26 meeting.

Kulakowski spoke of Restorative Justice, a program implemented in school systems nationally during the past decade as an alternative to simply kicking students with disciplinary problems out of school or having them arrested.

Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court judges began looking at Restorative Justice in 2011, incorporating it into the court’s Families in Need of Services program, said Blake Bascle, deputy chief of the District Attorney’s Office pre-trial diversion program.

A the time, Bascle worked for the Juvenile Court, which extended Restorative Justice practices to Roosevelt Middle School in Kenner, he said. The program migrated with Bascle to the District Attorney’s Office, where DA Paul Connick Jr. authorized Restorative Justice be implemented into the Pre-trial Juvenile Diversion program.

“With Mr. Connick’s support and grant funding support from the Baptist Community Ministries Foundation, the rest is history,” Pam Occhipinti, who has overseen Connick’s diversion program since 2012, said of the spread of Restorative Justice from the courts to juvenile diversion to the public school system.

Pre-trial Juvenile Diversion is a voluntary counseling program done in lieu of prosecution for certain youths between the ages of 10 and 17. If they successfully complete the program, prosecutors can refuse or dismiss the criminal charges.

In the Juvenile Diversion program, Restorative Justice is used in cases involving fights, thefts from a person, destroying another person’s property, assaults and batteries or any incident where “both parties are willing to come together to discuss the harm that was done,” said Michaela Bono, who oversees the Restorative Justice program created more than two years ago.

Youths charged with offenses such as narcotics, inter-family incidents and theft of goods from big chain stores aren’t candidates for Restorative Justice, Bono said. Now, it has spread to the schools.

“Because of Mr. Connick’s willingness to be at the forefront of change, the public school system experienced the positive effects of what we were doing,” Occhipinti said. “They partnered with us to help expand a new approach to conflict resolution.”

Using a variety of grants, the District Attorney’s Office and the Jefferson Parish Public School System began a collaboration last year, training teachers on Restorative Justice practices.

“These are processes that build and restore relationships,” said Lauren Trout, a restorative practices school specialist for the District Attorney’s Office and public school system. “It’s not another program. It’s not something you pull off a shelf.”

In schools, Trout said, students are taught math and other subjects. “And if they don’t know how to behave, we punish them,” she said. And that teaches students what not to do. Restorative practices helps students build relationships while retaining individuals’ dignity.

Gathering in what’s called “restorative circles” or “community conferences,” parties involved in the conflict are brought together to repair the harm caused by a particular incident, Trout said.

“Circles are always voluntary, meaning that everyone that comes to the circle is there because they agree to handle the matter through a community conference,” Trout said. “And its goals are for everyone to have a voice in repairing the harm done by the conflict or incident, and restoring the relationship.

“Rather than ask the questions ‘what rule or law was broken, and how do we punish?’ we are asking ‘what happened, who was affected and how, and what does everyone need to feel better?’” Trout said.

Trained and certified facilitators, such as Trout, plan the circles, where everyone involved or affected by an incident has the opportunity to share their experiences, she said. From there, the parties that include the juveniles’ families, agree on what needs to be done to repair the harm. Trout recalls a case she facilitated at a school where a student made online death threats toward the principal.

“After meeting with the student and his family, and then meeting with the principal, I brought the group together and facilitated a circle in which the student expressed many feelings of isolation and loneliness within the school community, which ultimately led to his actions that got him arrested,” Trout said.

“For the principal, who said she would feel the situation was resolved if the student felt less isolated, repairing the harm from the situation meant not further isolating him from the school community, but rather encouraging him to participate in the school community,” Trout said. “With the help of, and monitored by his parents, the student got involved in a student climate leadership and other after-school activities, and everyone in the circle had their needs met.”

In addition to West Jefferson High School, Alfred Bonnabel Magnet Academy High School and Grace King High School have fully implemented the program schoolwide, she said. Livaudais Middle School will implement the program school-wide in the coming academic year, while John Q. Adams Middle School has trained sixth grade teachers and is building out the program during the next three years, she said.

All of the schools were trained and supported through the Center for Restorative Approaches, a New Orleans-based organization that is working with the Jefferson Parish Public School System, Trout said. The U.S. Education Department’s School Climate Transformation Grant program has funded the work – and pays her salary, she added.

Speaking to the Jefferson Children and Youth Planning Board on Jan. 26, Kulakowski endorsed the program and said more schools should adopt it.

“It’s going to drastically reduce the conflict,” Kulakowski said.

Lauren Trout, a restorative practices school specialist at the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office, discusses the program for the parish's Children and Youth Planning Board during its meeting on Jan. 26, 2016.
Lauren Trout, a restorative practices school specialist at the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office, discusses the program for the parish’s Children and Youth Planning Board during its meeting on Jan. 26, 2016.


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