Month: August 2016

Metairie man convicted in barroom machete attack

A Metairie man was convicted of attempted manslaughter on Wednesday (Aug. 31) for attacking another man in a bar with a machete. The 26-year-old victim’s right thumb was almost severed, and he received gashes to his head and back.

Akando Ducksworth, 33, a native of Moss Point, Miss., faces up to 20 years in prison in connection with the Oct. 11, 2015 attack inside the bar in the 5200 block of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, in Metairie.

Ducksworth and his girlfriend and the victim and another woman had been socializing at another bar on Veterans before going to the one where the attack occurred, according to testimony. In the exterior patio area at the second bar, Ducksworth and the victim exchanged hostile words and a shove during a disagreement over the defendant’s girlfriend.

Ducksworth ran to his car, and the victim returned to inside the bar. Ducksworth retrieved the machete from his car and ran back into the bar, rushing straight to the victim and swinging the weapon at the victim without hesitation, according to trial testimony and surveillance video, which the jury saw. The victim testified he didn’t see Ducksworth coming until the last moment.

“I couldn’t see what was in his hand,” the victim testified. “He was swinging with full force. I ducked, and I put my hand up to try to block what it was.”

The machete cut into the victim’s right hand, his thumb almost severed, he testified. He grabbed Ducksworth in a bear hug. “If I would have given him distance, he would have kept cutting me,” the victim testified.

Before bar patrons could disarm Ducksworth, the victim suffered three gashes to his back and two to his head. In arguing the actions constituted attempted murder, prosecutors argued Ducksworth intentionally tried to kill the victim by swinging the machete at the victim’s head.

In testimony, Ducksworth tearfully apologized for his actions. He testified that he was drunk during the attack and only wanted to hurt the victim. He testified he swung the machete only at the victim’s hand, and that the other five gashes were “accidental cuts.” His attorneys argued that the jury should find Ducksworth guilty of only an aggravated battery.

The jury of 11 women and one man deliberated about 2 1/3 hours. Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court scheduled Ducksworth’s sentencing hearing for Tuesday (Sept. 6).

Assistant District Attorney Seth Shute prosecuted the case.

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Kenner man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal stabbing

A Kenner man has pleaded guilty as charged to manslaughter in the death of his acquaintance, who was stabbed during a fight stemming from a quarrel between a woman and her ex-boyfriend.

Ravon R. Miller, 30, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday (Aug. 29), after admitting he stabbed Kenneth Tassin III. The victim, 20, died on the night of March 23, 2015, after he was stabbed several times during a fight outside his home in the 2800 block of Richland Street.

Miller drove Tassin’s ex-girlfriend, Jonnisha Allen, to Tassin’s home so she could retrieve some of her belongings and items for the children the former couple had together, according to the Kenner Police Department. Miller’s girlfriend, Johneka Woods, went with them, authorities said.

Allen suspected that Tassin was in the home with his new girlfriend that night and demanded that Tassin go outside. Allen then slashed the new girlfriend’s car tires and scratched its paint, leading to a fight between the women, police said. Allen also grabbed the new girlfriend’s cellular phone and got into a vehicle with it.

Tassin, meanwhile, had gone outside his home, to give Allen her belongings. Tassin saw his acquaintance Miller outside and became upset that Miller drove Allen to the apartment, authorities said.

At that point, Tassin punched Miller, leading to a fist fight. That’s when Miller pulled out his pocket knife and stabbed Tassin, according to police.

Miller got into his 2004 Chevrolet Suburban with Allen and Woods and fled. Kenner police stopped them shortly after in the 2800 block of Loyola Drive. Police noted blood smeared on the vehicle and blood on the suspects’ clothing. The pocket knife was found under the Suburban’s front passenger’s seat.

After initially saying an unknown person committed the homicide, Miller confessed to police that he stabbed Tassin. In addition to pleading guilty to the manslaughter on Monday, Miller also pleaded guilty to a charge of simple burglary, for breaking into a woman’s car on July 4, 2014. He received a six-year sentence for that crime.

Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the guilty pleas, ran the sentences concurrently.

Allen and Woods pleaded guilty last year in connection with their involvement in Tassin’s death and the altercation.

Woods, 23, of Metairie, pleaded guilty on Oct. 22, 2015, to accessory to manslaughter. She received five years of probation, court records show. She admitted to secreting the knife when police stopped Miller’s Suburban, and she lied to police about it when she gave her statement.

Allen, 23, of Kenner, pleaded guilty on Oct. 26, 2015, to the simple criminal damage of Tassin’s girlfriend’s car, theft of her cell phone and simple battery. She received five years of probation, court records show.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Emily Booth prosecuted the cases.

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Marrero man convicted of running ex-girlfriend’s mother over with SUV

A Marrero man who twice used his full-size sports-utility vehicle to hit his ex-girlfriend’s 61-year-old mother, knocking her to the ground on a Harvey street during the first strike and running over her leg on the second pass, was convicted as charged Friday night of aggravated second-degree battery.

Earl K. Harris, 42, faces zero to 15 years in prison for the incident on Sept. 11, 2015, when about 11 p.m., he struck the great-grandmother of three as she walked in the 1100 block of Clydesbank Drive in the Scotsdale neighborhood.

The woman, who uses a cane to help her walk and requires more surgery, was returning to her home after walking to a cousin’s house on Clydesbank Drive, to borrow diapers for one of her grandchildren.

She had a friend accompany her, and as they walked the sidewalk back to her home, she noticed the bright lights and loud engine of an SUV coming up from behind them, she testified Friday. “It was coming fast,” she said.

She testified the SUV struck her, and its driver circled around across homes’ lawns and ran the vehicle over her left leg. He circled around for a third pass. That’s when she recognized the driver, Harris, looking at her through the passenger-side window.

“He looked over at me on the ground and smiled,” she testified.

The victim’s companion and a nearby resident called 911, and the jury heard recordings of the calls. In the companion’s call, the victim is heard wailing in pain – and identifying Harris as the driver who injured her.

“Earl Keith Harris. Please, he’s coming back,” she told the 911 operator. “I need to go to the hospital. Please, please.”

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Justin McLin testified that he arrived to find the woman lying partially in the street. “She was screaming for help,” he testified, adding that the victim identified Harris as the driver. McLin noted fresh tire marks on the grassy lawns on both sides of Clydesbank, showing Harris’ path.

The victim was rushed to Ochsner’s West Bank emergency room, where the treating physician, Dr. Elizabeth Skeins, noted one of the woman’s tibia bones was “broken into several pieces,” she testified. The injury required immediate surgery, Skeins testified.

Harris denied he was the driver, and his public defender suggested that the morphine and hydromorphone the victim was given by paramedics and hospital staff adversely affected her memory. The defense also argued the area of Clydesbank was poorly lit at night, calling into question whether the victim could see who was driving.

From the witness stand, she stood by the identification. “He know[s] he hit me, and I know he hit me,” she insisted during the contentious cross-examination.

Harris made an apparent attempt to derail his trial on Thursday, minutes after his victim began to testify against him the first time. He suddenly stood from his seat at the defense table and, in front of the jury, he interrupted her testimony and created a disturbance.

Citing the potential life sentence in prison Harris could receive as a habitual offender, given his convictions that include armed robbery and narcotics offenses, Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court granted a defense mistrial request. “The court does not want to grant a mistrial, because the court is of the opinion the defendant was acting out. But out of an abundance of caution, the court is going to grant a mistrial,” Judge Regan said Thursday.

He stayed the trial to allow prosecutors to file an immediate appeal. The District Attorney’s Office prevailed at the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, which on Friday morning reversed the trial court’s mistrial decision and ordered the trial to resume. In their appeal, prosecutors asserted that Harris attempted to “short-circuit” his own trial through his outburst. The victim resumed her testimony on Friday and insisted that Harris was the driver who injured her.

The jury deliberated more than 2 ½ hours before delivering the verdict after 7:30 p.m. Judge Regan is scheduled to hand down the sentence on Sept. 16.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittany Beckner and Andrew DeCoste prosecuted the case. Assistant District Attorney Darren Allemand handled the appeal.

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Metairie man pleads guilty to murder attempts, false imprisonments in The Turtle bar incident

A Metairie man who barged into a neighborhood bar armed with a rifle and pistols, firing bullets and holding people captive during a standoff with deputies a year ago, was sentenced on Monday (Aug. 15) to 20 years in prison.

Edmund Schlumbrecht, 53, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of attempted first-degree murder, nine counts of false imprisonment while armed with a dangerous weapon and four counts of aggravated criminal damage. He had been scheduled to stand trial this week.

The crimes happened on Aug. 21, 2015, at The Turtle lounge, at 8001 Karen St., just blocks from Schlumbrecht’s home. People who were inside the business told the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that Schlumbrecht entered the business and ordered the victims at gunpoint to go to the rear patio, according to the arrest report.

Some victims ran out the back door, which they tried to lock behind them to trap Schlumbrecht inside, according to the report. He fired several shots at the door, with bullets penetrating it and almost striking the people on the outside.

As Schlumbrecht held nine people hostage, deputies surrounded the business and attempted to negotiate with him over the phone for about an hour. Schlumbrecht said at one point that he was going to kill everyone inside.

A bar patron jumped Schlumbrecht, and several other customers held him down and disarmed him, leading to his arrest about 12:30 a.m., on Aug. 22, 2015, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was armed with an AK-47 rifle, a .40-caliber pistol and a .38-caliber derringer, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators suspected that Schlumbrecht had been in The Turtle earlier that evening and got into an argument with another patron, leaving the business and returning with the firearms.

Of the 13 victims in the attempted murder counts, five were women and eight were men. The aggravated criminal damage charges resulted from the bullet holes in the rear door. Five men and four women were the victims of the false imprisonment charges.

“I went into The Turtle bar with a gun,” Schlumbrecht testified in admitting his guilt. “I fired it in the bar. I held people against their will.”

In accepting the plea, Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Schlumbrecht to 20 years for each of the attempted murder charges, 10 years for each of the false imprisonment charges and 10 years for each of the aggravated criminal damage counts.

Judge Sullivan ran the sentences concurrently. He also will recommend to the state Department of Corrections that Schlumbrecht receive self-help programs and treatment while in prison, including assistance in receiving his GED.

Schlumbrecht initially pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. As such, his attorneys had planned to argue at trial that he suffered from a mental defect that deprived him of his ability to distinguish between right and wrong when he committed the crimes. A jury presiding over the trial would have had to make that determination.

Further, his attorneys also argued that Schlumbrecht was not mentally fit to stand trial. Doctors found he met the legal criteria to stand trial, and Judge Sullivan ordered that Schlumbrecht was competent on June 15.

Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Truhe and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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New Orleans man pleads guilty to molesting 7-year-old West Bank girl

A 43-year-old New Orleans man averted his trial by pleading guilty on Monday (Aug. 15) to molesting a 7-year-old girl two years ago.

Ulysses Maxwell pleaded guilty as charged to sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13 and cyberstalking, and received a 25-year prison sentence. He also will have to register as sex offender for the rest of his life after he’s released from prison.

“We as a society should not tolerate predators of our own species,” Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court told Maxwell.

According to witnesses in the case, the victim was sleeping at her grandmother’s home on the West Bank in early 2014, and Maxwell was there at the time. He invited the victim into the kitchen, sat her on an ice chest and told her to close her eyes to play a game.

When she realized that Maxwell was sexually abusing her, she opened her eyes and began to cry, leading Maxwell to give her a candy bar. The victim told her grandmother, but she did not report the incident to anyone.

Several months later, the victim was watching a television show about child sexual predators and asked her mother if should could tell her anything. The mother said she could, and the child disclosed the abuse, leading the mother to notify the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The victim’s biological father and her mother’s boyfriend at the time, meanwhile, sought Maxwell out and beat him up.

Maxwell in turn sent a threatening text message to the boyfriend’s cellular phone, telling him, “You know yall should have killed me now my turn. You a died man.” [sic] That text message served as the basis for the cyberstalking charge.

Judge Taylor sentenced Maxwell to 25 years for the sexual battery, to be served without the benefit of probation, parole or suspended sentence. She sentenced Maxwell to six months for the cyberstalking and ran it concurrently with the 25 years.

Maxwell had been scheduled to stand trial this week for the offenses and faced 25 years to 99 years had he been convicted of the sexual battery. Through his public defender, however, he appeared in court Monday morning and offered to plead guilty as charged to both offenses.

Assistant District Attorneys Blair Constant and Rhonda Goode-Douglas prosecuted the case.

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Man pleads guilty to indecent behavior with 7-year-old Metairie girl, gets 10 years

On the morning after his 8-year-old victim testified against him, a former Metairie resident pleaded guilty as charged on Thursday (Aug. 11) to two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile under age 13 in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence.

Eric Fontenelle, 53, who more recently resided in Abita Springs, also will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after he is released from prison, 24th Judicial District Court Judge Glenn Ansardi ordered in accepting the negotiated plea agreement.

Fontenelle admitted that he inappropriately touched the then 7-year-old girl near her genital area outside her clothing on Oct. 5 and again on Oct. 6 in a Metairie home. Afterward, he told her, “If you tell anybody about this, I’m going to spank you,” prosecutors told the Jefferson Parish jury.

The victim disclosed Fontenelle’s behavior to her stepfather on Oct. 19, leading the family to notify the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. The child repeated her description of what happened to a road deputy, a sex crimes detective, the Jefferson Children’s Advocacy Center and Children’s Hospital.

She also repeated the description on Wednesday evening for the jury. Her testimony Wednesday evening apparently was a factor in Fontenelle’s decision to plead guilty.

Fontenelle had access to the child and was in a position of trust with her family. The abuse and betrayal has left turmoil in the victim’s home, the child’s mother said in an impact statement that was read aloud in court on Thursday.

“You have taken my little girl’s innocence away, something she will never get back,” the mother wrote. “It may be over today, but we still have a long healing process ahead of us!”

Before Thursday, Fontenelle’s criminal history included convictions of narcotics-related offenses. In addition to sex-offender registration, Fontenelle will be under state supervision for the rest of his life after he completes his prison sentence.

While the crimes happened in Metairie, Fontenelle provided the court with an Abita Springs address for his residence.

Assistant District Attorneys Rhonda Goode-Douglas and Marko Marjanovic prosecuted the case.

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‘I’ll keep you in my prayers,’ beating victim tells burglar at plea hearing

The third of three men accused in a Metairie residential burglary during which a 61-year-old woman was brutally beaten admitted his guilt on Wednesday (Aug. 10) and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Ronald Bowman, 38, of Marrero, pleaded guilty as charged to aggravated burglary for his role in the Oct. 14 crime in the 3500 block of Bissonet Drive. Bowman and two cohorts went to the residence posing as workers and then forced their way inside, knocking the woman to the ground.

At least one of the men beat and kicked her, causing injuries that required hospitalization. After a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy entered the Bissonet Drive home in responding to a 911 call, Bowman ran out the back door but was captured blocks away.

Although Bowman pleaded guilty, he denied physically attacking the woman. The assertion prompted 24th Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Enright to warn Bowman that he could withdraw the guilty plea and proceed to trial. Bowman moved forward with the plea.

The victim’s son, John Herrin, told Bowman in impact testimony that his mother was frail and unable to defend herself against the attackers.

“You could have killed my mother, and you’d be looking at a lot more than 15 (years in prison),” Herrin testified. “You should feel remorse and sorry for your actions.”

He said his mother remains traumatized by the attack. “She’s a strong woman,” Herrin said. “She’ll bounce back. … My mother holds no resentment toward you. I don’t hate you.”

Bowman nodded in agreement with Herrin and afterward expressed remorse. “I truly want to apologize to the nice lady,” Bowman told the court.

The victim sat in the front row in the courtroom’s gallery. “God bless you, and I’ll keep you in my prayers,” she told Bowman.

Bowman replied, “God bless you, too.”

The victim offered similar blessings to Bowman’s two codefendants, Allen Narcisse and Terry McCall. Both men have expressed remorse for their actions.

Narcisse, 38, of Kenner, whom the victim is certain beat her, was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison. He pleaded guilty last month to aggravated burglary, aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest by force or violence.

McCall, 29, of Westwego, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and was sentenced to 15 years in prison on March 17.

Bowman, who already is confined to a state prison, appeared in court for a pretrial motion hearing on Wednesday. The guilty plea was unexpected.

Eight days after the crime, Bowman pleaded guilty in the 24th Judicial District Court to an unrelated narcotics charge. He received a five-year prison sentence, which he is serving at the River Correctional Center in Concordia Parish, from where he was transported on Wednesday to the Jefferson Parish courthouse in Gretna.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted all three cases.

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‘God bless you, baby,’ beating victim tells her attacker who gets 20-year sentence

Allen Narcisse of Kenner brutally beat a 60-year-old Metairie woman in her home last year. He admitted as much last month, when he pleaded guilty as charged to being one of the three men who brazenly forced their way into the victim’s residence intent on committing a burglary.

On Monday (Aug. 8), Narcisse appeared in a Jefferson Parish courtroom to receive his 20-year prison sentence, as his victim, now age 61, and some of her family members looked on. Narcisse, 38, whose mother knows the victim, beat the woman, causing severe injuries before he went on to injure a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy in an attempt to escape.

The victim’s son, John Herrin, told Narcisse during his impact testimony on Monday that what he did “was reprehensible and almost without forgiveness.”

“You took advantage of a 60-year-old woman, who couldn’t even defend herself,” Herrin testified, disclosing her mother’s myriad medical woes that include rotator cuff problems that limited her ability to raise her arms and a pacemaker that helps keep her heart beating.

“You beat her,” Herrin testified. “What kind of man does it take to do something like that? How would you like it if someone did that to your mother?”

Narcisse pleaded guilty as charged on July 21 to aggravated burglary, aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest by force or violence. His sentencing hearing was postponed to Monday, to allow the victim and her family to be present to provide impact testimony.

Narcisse, who was able to post a bond and temporarily gain his release from custody last week, asked Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court to postpone the sentencing further, “so I can spend a couple of days with my kid.”

Judge Enright denied the request. “It’s time for this matter to be brought to an end,” the judge said.

Narcisse and two cohorts went to the woman’s home on Bissonet Drive about 11:20 a.m., on Oct. 14, carrying a chain saw and wearing work gloves as they announced they were there to for a job. When the victim told the men she needed no work, they forced their way inside. Narcisse, a 200-pound construction worker, beat her.

A neighbor called 911, and Deputy Stephen Bowman was the first officer to arrive. He encountered Narcisse, who at first told the deputy he lived there. As Deputy Bowman attempted to take Narcisse into custody, Narcisse resisted, broke away and fled in a Chevrolet Tahoe, dragging the officer a short distance.

Narcisse led other deputies on a chase that ended in the 5400 block of Veterans Memorial Boulevard, where he surrendered in a business’s parking lot.

A second suspect, Terry McCall, 29, of Westwego, was captured hiding in the home. He pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and was sentenced to 15 years in prison on March 17. The third defendant, Ronald J. Bowman, 38, of Marrero, awaits trial.

Herrin urged Narcisse to use his time in prison “wisely.” “You hurt my mom, you hurt my family,” Herrin told Narcisse. “For that, I’m pretty upset. How would you like it if someone did that to your mom?”

Narcisse then was sentenced to 20 years for the aggravated burglary, 10 years for the aggravated assault with a motor vehicle on Deputy Bowman and three years for resisting arrest. The sentences were run concurrently.

Narcisse also pleaded guilty to being a double offender, but the sentence remained 20 years. Noting he recognizes 20 years to be “a lengthy sentence,” Judge Enright told Narcisse he’ll be in his late 50s when he’s released from prison.

“I’m struck by the compassion of the victim in this case has given and the tremendous and really inhuman beating you gave her,” Judge Enright told Narcisse.

Moments later, as the sentencing hearing ended, the victim rose from her seat in the gallery’s front row to leave and called out to Narcisse, who was handcuffed and seated in the jury box. “God bless you, baby,” she told him.

Narcisse responded. “I’m sorry,” he told her.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.

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‘My brother trusted you,’ homicide victim’s sister tells convict at sentencing hearing

With a dozen members of her victim’s family and many of her own kin appearing in a Jefferson Parish courtroom, an eastern New Orleans woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday (Aug. 4), for orchestrating an armed robbery that ended with a fatal shooting two years ago.

Markeisha Lewis, 25, on Monday admitted to her role in the June 27, 2014, death of a man she knew, Demone Robinson, 24, whom she set up to be robbed of a pistol and Xanax pills in a meeting she arranged in the 1000 block of Inca Drive.

She pleaded guilty to manslaughter, conspiracy to possess Xanax and obstruction of justice. In accepting the plea, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court delayed the sentencing to Thursday, when three of Robinson’s family members provided impact testimony.

“You’re looking like you don’t care, but we care,” Robinson’s mother Letrina Robinson testified, speaking to the shackled Lewis sitting directly across the courtroom in the jury box. “You don’t know how much I loved my son. I fought to get you to this point where you are right now.”

Lewis and Robinson knew each other, the family members said. Yet she conceived the plan to rob him of his pistol and Xanax, according to court documents. Through a series of text messages, she set up the meeting in the 1000 block of Inca Drive in Harvey, near where Robinson lived.

“My brother trusted you, well enough for you to have his number,” his sister Ashley Robinson said in impact testimony. She thanked “those of you who brought justice for my brother.” And she called it “a senseless and poorly planned crime” that robbed the Robinson family of their loved one.

Lewis enlisted two teenagers, Raynell Whittaker, then 17, and Everis Hilton, then 16, to help carry out the plan, according to the court records. As she and Whittaker met with Robinson on the street, Lewis called out, “We about to get crunk,” her signal for the armed Hilton to commence the robbery, the records show.

Instead, Hilton emerged and opened fire, killing Robinson. Hilton later told Whittaker that Robinson was removing a pistol from his pants, leading to the shooting. “I had to. He was going to kill me,” according to court records.

Afterward, Lewis deleted the incriminating text messages from her phone and removed the firearms – actions that led to the obstruction of justice charge.

Family members said Robinson had four daughters. One of them was at their nearby home when her father left to meet with Lewis, the family members said. That daughter had been waiting for her father to return, they said.

Everis and Whittaker pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other offenses in July. Everis received a 40-year sentence, and Whittaker was sentenced to 30 years.

In addition to her testimony, Letrina Robinson prepared a statement that was read aloud by her sister, ArKemi Robinson. In it, she accused Lewis of not caring about Robinson’s family when she concocted and carried out the robbery.

“You were only worried about your mission being accomplished,” Letrina Robinson wrote. “Today, you’re sitting in this courtroom, in this box, facing Demone’s family, something you didn’t think would ever happen.”

She said she did not believe Lewis should ever “walk the streets” as a free person again. “We did get justice for my son, because that’s all that matters,” she wrote. She told Lewis to consider her parting thoughts while she’s being transported to a state prison to begin her 25-year sentence.

“While you’re riding, ask yourself: Was it worth it?” Letrina Robinson wrote. “Enjoy your years.”

After her testimony, Letrina Robinson returned to the courtroom gallery where her family sat and began sobbing. A family member carried her from the courtroom.

Just days before the homicide, Hilton and Whittaker robbed a man of his cell phone in New Orleans’ Irish Channel. They pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court and were serving 10-year prison sentences for that crime when a Jefferson Parish grand jury handed up an indictment charging them in Robinson’s death.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Michael Smith prosecuted the case.

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New Orleans woman pleads guilty to role in Harvey homicide

An eastern New Orleans woman has pleaded guilty on to her role in the shooting death of a man in West Jefferson two years ago, bringing to three the number of people who’ve admitted guilt in the homicide.

Markeisha Lewis, 25, pleaded guilty Monday afternoon (Aug. 1) to manslaughter, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to possess Xanex in connection with the June 27, 2014 death of Demone Robinson of Harvey.

In accepting the negotiated plea agreement, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court  will sentence Lewis to 25 years in prison during a hearing set for 1:30 p.m., on Thursday.

Robinson, 24, was shot to death in the 1000 block of Inca Drive in Harvey, during an attempt to rob him of Xanax pills and his pistol. He died at the scene.

The shooter, Everis Hilton, 18, of New Orleans, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on July 12, and received a 40-year prison sentence. Hilton was 16 years old at the time of the offense.

The third participant, Raynell Whittaker, 19, of Harvey, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on June 10, in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence. Judge Faulkner handed down those sentences on July 18.

According to court records, Lewis had been romantically involved with Whittaker’s mother and conceived a plan to rob Robinson of a pistol under the guise of obtaining Xanex pills. She and Robinson communicated via text messages in arranging a meeting. She then told Hilton, “We going to savage D,” speaking in slang of robbing Robinson, according to court records.

The plan called for her and Whittaker to meet with Robinson for the purported narcotics transaction. She told Hilton that her signal to rob Robinson was her saying, “We going to get crunk,” court records show. Lewis and Whittaker then met with Robinson when she called out the signal phrase, leading Hilton to emerge saying “freeze,” court records show.

Robinson began to remove his pistol from his waistband, and Hilton began shooting, according to court records. Afterwards, Hilton explained to Whittaker his reason for opening fire: “I had to. He was going to kill me,” according to court records.

Lewis’ obstruction of justice charge stems from her orchestrating the removal of firearms in connection with the homicide investigation and eliminating evidence of the plan from her cellular phone. She was scheduled to stand trial this week on charges including second-degree murder.

Judge Faulkner will sentence Lewis to 25 years at hard labor for the manslaughter, 2 1/2 years for the conspiracy and 10 years for obstruction of justice. He will run the sentences concurrently, he said.

In pleading guilty on Monday, Lewis told the judge she lived in eastern New Orleans. In court records, her home address was given as the 1000 block of Inca Drive, which is near the homicide scene.

Her guilty plea comes a week after the Louisiana Supreme Court sided with Jefferson Parish prosecutors in their quest to use Lewis’ rap videos and lyrics as evidence against her during the trial. Lyrics describing a violent armed robbery tended to incriminate her in connection with Robinson’s death, prosecutors argued.

Just days before the homicide, Hilton and Whittaker robbed a man of his cell phone in New Orleans’ Irish Channel. They pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court and were serving 10-year prison sentences for that crime when a Jefferson Parish grand jury handed up an indictment charging them in Robinson’s death.

Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Truhe and Michael Smith prosecuted the case.

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