Month: September 2016

Highlighting consequences helps when talking sex and the law to teens

Stacie LeBlanc, standing, discusses her program "Teens, Sex and the Law" for members of the Jefferson Parish Children and Youth Planning Board, on Tuesday (Sept. 27, 2016). Seated behind her are Mary Ann Dankert, community outreach director of the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office, and Blake Bascle, deputy director of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office pre-trial juvenile diversion program. (JPDA photo)
Stacie LeBlanc, standing, discusses her program “Teens, Sex and the Law” for members of the Jefferson Parish Children and Youth Planning Board, on Tuesday (Sept. 27, 2016). Seated behind her are Mary Ann Dankert, community outreach director of the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office, and Blake Bascle, deputy director of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office pre-trial juvenile diversion program. (JPDA photo)


Simply telling teenagers that certain sexual activities are illegal often is insufficient in getting the message across to some Louisiana youths. However, explaining the punishment that comes with breaking the laws is the more effective approach, says former Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court prosecutor Stacie LeBlanc.

For instance, LeBlanc said, a 17-year-old who has sex with a child under age 13 would be committing a first-degree rape under Louisiana law, which is punishable by up to life in prison. For a teen under age 17 having sex with the same child, the punishment could be “juvenile life,” or incarceration until he or she reaches age 21 or potentially to age 31 under some circumstances.

“Teenagers don’t know this,” LeBlanc said. “They’re pretty shocked by this.”

LeBlanc, executive director of the New Orleans Child Advocacy Center and the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center at Children’s Hospital, tries to educate area youths through a 1 ½-hour long program she created, “Teens, Sex and the Law.”

She also created a pamphlet that she has distributed in recent years to young audiences, including 10th graders at New Orleans’ all-girl Catholic schools, she told members of the Jefferson Parish Children and Youth Board on Tuesday (Sept. 27).

Click here for a PDF of the “Teens, Sex and the Law” pamphlet.

The Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office, with assistance of the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office, uses LeBlanc’s program and pamphlets as part of its mental health program. Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich implemented the program since taking office in 2012, and Jefferson Parish is the only jurisdiction in the state to present it as part of its effort to address suicide.

During the past two years, 11,927 Jefferson Parish public school students have been taught the “Teen Sex and the Law” program, Mary Ann Dankert, director of community outreach at the Coroner’s Office, said Tuesday.

“That has been a huge blessing for our community, because their (teenagers’) beliefs on sexual activities are completely different” than those held by adults, Dankert said. “It’s been a benefit.”

Louisiana law requires that sex education in schools must focus on abstinence, LeBlanc said. She stressed her program isn’t about sex education. It’s about laws related to sex involving juveniles, including the punishment youths and adults can receive when it comes to sexual activities with juveniles.

At the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center at Children’s Hospital, 26 percent of the youths who are evaluated by the center’s staff were there because of some type of sexual activity with another juvenile, LeBlanc said.

Often, she said, student leaders more effectively deliver the message of law and teen sex to their younger counterparts. Teens talk to other teens about sex, she said. LeBlanc said she has worked with schools where teens present the program to classmates with a lawyer’s guidance.

“So, it really works best that way,” she said.

Seeking advice on the Internet isn’t effective, because the information isn’t always available. Plus, Louisiana’s laws are unique among the states, LeBlanc said.

In her program and her pamphlet, LeBlanc addresses the laws on sexting, or sharing nude images through cell phones. For instance, a 17-year-old boy who takes nude photographs of his 15-year-old girlfriend using his cell phone would be producing child pornography, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

In Jefferson Parish, authorities are seeing an increase in sexting-related crimes. So the District Attorney’s Office has incorporated elements of LeBlanc’s work into its pre-trial juvenile diversion program, said Blake Bascle, deputy director of the DA’s diversion program.

Diversion counselors sit in “talking circles” with teenagers involved in sexting and their parents and discuss the law and punishment as they apply to youths sharing nude images of themselves, Bascle told the Children and Youth Planning Board.

“It seems to work really well,” Bascle said. He recalls one teen disclosing how he told another teen to stop sharing the illicit photos, heeding the advice given in the diversion program. “We know somebody heard it, at least one.”

Taking nude photographs or videos of a person who is under age 17 is illegal. By law, that’s producing child pornography, and the punishment for it is up to 10 years in prison with no chance of probation or parole. Sharing those images is equally illegal.

The age of consent in Louisiana is 17. Louisiana has “a whole menu of laws,” that pertain to juveniles and sex, LeBlanc said. For instance, if two teens of the same age get drunk and have sex, both of them could be charged with simple rape if the other party was too drunk to consent.

Or, if a 19-year-old boy has sex with his willing 15-year-old girlfriend, he can be charged with carnal knowledge of a juvenile – the specific law in Louisiana for the general legal term “statutory rape.” Carnal knowledge in Louisiana is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“’No’ means ‘no’ at any age,” LeBlanc said. “But ‘yes’ even at a certain age can be illegal.”

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Former high school teacher pleads guilty to child pornography charges

As jury selection was underway in his trial, a former Jefferson Parish public school teacher pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Sept. 27) to child pornography charges, including offenses that involved a student.

Walter Sologaistoa, 46, of Kenner, will receive a 13-year prison sentence on Tuesday (Oct 4). Upon his release from prison, Sologaistoa will have to register as a sex offender for 25 years and be electronically monitored by the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the rest of his life.

Sologoaistoa was a Grace King High School Spanish teacher and soccer coach when he was arrested in 2013 in connection with the case. He pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of possession of child pornography involving juveniles under age 13, one count of possession of child pornography involving a juvenile under age 17 and one count of production of child pornography involving a juvenile under age 17.

The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crime Unit initiated the investigation after its agents were able to download four child pornographic images remotely from Sologaistoa’s computer through a peer-to-peer sharing website, according to evidence that was to be presented at his trial.

During the course of the investigation that followed, members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Digital Forensics Unit found videos and photographs on Sologaistoa’s home laptop computer, including imagery of a student. Sologaistoa produced the images of the student using a cellular device, taken while he and the girl were inside a Metairie bar that he co-owned at the time, according to evidence that was to be presented at trial.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court, in accepting the pleas, decided to sentence Sologaistoa to 13 years in prison.

Sologaistoa, who gained his release from jail after posting a $130,000 bond two years ago, was remanded to custody on Tuesday. Judge Mentz authorized Sologaistoa’s release from jail until next week’s sentencing hearing so that he can get his affairs in order, but Sologaistoa must have his whereabouts electronically monitored by police until then.

Attorneys spent most of Monday and Tuesday morning selecting a jury that would have weighed evidence in the case. The process was almost complete late Tuesday morning when Sologaistoa pleaded guilty.

Assistant District Attorneys Angel Varnado and Rhonda Goode-Douglas prosecuted the case.

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Marrero man convicted of two bank robberies, pointing pistol at deputies before he was shot

A Marrero man was convicted Thursday night (Sept. 22) of robbing the same bank branch twice, slightly one year apart. Brandon Gray initially got away with the first robbery, but he was arrested after the second one, when he led deputies on a vehicle pursuit that culminated with his being shot in his right leg by an officer.

Gray, 40, who is transported between the parish jail and court in a wheel chair because of the bullet wound, was convicted as charged of five counts of armed robbery, aggravated flight and two counts of aggravated assault. The five robbery counts involve the five bank employees who were victimized during the two bank heists.

He was convicted of robbing the Iberia Bank branch on Barataria Boulevard in Marrero on Sept. 30, 2013, and returning again on Oct. 9, 2014. He stole almost $20,000 between the robberies, but only about $15,700 was recovered following his arrest for the second crime.

The jury heard testimony from tellers and managers, who noted similarities in the robberies. Each time, Gray covered his face, leaving victims unable to identify him. However, the robber was physically similar, used white plastic grocery bags to carry the cash, carried a black pistol and used similar vulgar words in directing and threatening to kill his victims, according to testimony.

“The first thing is the voice, the sound of the voice,” the assistant branch manager testified Wednesday in drawing similarities. “The language that was used was the same both times. … I feel confident that it was the same person.”

The bank branch manager, who also witnessed both robberies and had a pistol pointed at him during the crimes, concurred, saying it was “the same type of language he used the year before.”

During the second robbery, one of the bank employees happened to be speaking with her husband on the phone when the robber burst in. Her husband, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Lt. Oliver Silvey, was driving to his off-duty security detail at the time.

“All of sudden she said, ‘Oh my god, we’re getting robbed, we’re getting robbed,’” Silvey testified. She put the phone down but resumed the conversation minutes later, hysterically saying they were robbed.

Silvey said he was broadcasting the robbery on the police radio “within seconds,” relaying the information his wife was providing to his fellow deputies. Those details included the suspect’s description and that he drove a blue Chevrolet Suburban, Silvey testified.

Deputy Ted Raymond was patrolling when he heard Silvey’s broadcast. He activated his emergency lights and rushed toward the bank when he spotted a blue Suburban stopped at the red light at Ames and Lapalco boulevards, he testified.

“The driver started hopping around, jumping around in the front seat,” Raymond testified in describing Gray’s nervous demeanor. With the police vehicle behind him, Gray ran the red light, Raymond testified. Gray led Raymond and Deputy Alvin Farris on a vehicle pursuit, during which the suspect ran stop signs and traffic lights, the officers testified. Gray drove more than twice the speed limit on the residential streets of the Lincolnshire subdivision, the deputies testified.

In the 2000 block of Constantine Street, Gray crashed the Suburban into the front of a house. The deputies testified they saw him jump out of the driver’s door carrying a pistol in his right hand and a white grocery bag in his left hand.

As Gray ran behind the Suburban, the plastic bag snagged the rear bumper, ripping it open and scattering the stolen cash on the front lawn, the deputies testified. Gray ran up an alley and hopped a chain link fence into the back yard, ignoring the deputies’ commands to stop.

“He turned around in a cowboy stance and he pointed the gun at me,” Raymond testified. “That’s when I fired three times. I thought it was three times. I was (later) told it was seven to six or seven.”

Farris stood behind Raymond with his service pistol drawn and pointed at Gray. But Farris testified he did not open fire because Raymond was too close to his line of fire.

Despite being shot once in his right leg, Gray ran across the back yard and hopped another fence. Deputies that converged on the area arrested him. The deputies also found the pistol Gray used. It was a toy airgun pellet pistol, according to testimony.

During his interrogation, Gray confessed to Robbery Detective Marc Macaluso that he robbed the bank in 2014, saying he had to support five children but trying to minimize his actions. His attorney argued that it did not qualify legally as an armed robbery by definition, because a toy pellet pistol was used, not an actual firearm.

Gray denied robbing the bank in 2013. In that crime, the robber drove a gold Chevrolet Suburban as the getaway vehicle. That Suburban was recovered on Constantine Street following the 2014 armed robbery, near where Gray drove into the house, and in it were pellets and construction gear similar to the green construction vest the robber wore in the 2013 bank robbery, Macaluso testified.

Gray faces 10 years to 99 years in prison for each armed robbery count. Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court scheduled Gray’s sentencing hearing for Oct. 6.

Gray, who did not testify this week, was convicted of a 1997 armed robbery in Westwego, for which he received a 15-year prison sentence. The 64-year-old victim in that crime was changing a fuse in his minivan when Gray approached armed with a revolver and threatened to kill him. The victim resisted and struggled with Gray, who was able to get away in the minivan.

He led deputies on a pursuit, in which he drove the wrong way on Lapalco Boulevard and onto the Harvey Canal bridge. He collided with several vehicles, sending one motorist to the hospital, and he jumped off the bridge into the Harvey Canal in a failed attempt to escape, police said.

Prosecutors made a pretrial attempt to use the 1997 conviction as evidence of prior “bad acts” in this week’s trial. However, Judge Taylor denied prosecutors’ request, meaning the jury heard nothing about the 1997 conviction this week.

Assistant District Attorneys Blair Constant and Thomas Sanderson prosecuted the 2013 and 2014 robberies.

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Metairie man sentenced to 10 years for cruelty to 4-month-old daughter

A Metairie man was sentenced on Thursday (Sept. 22) to the maximum 10-year sentence allowable under state law for his conviction of causing injuries to his 4-month-old daughter that included a fractured skull and broken bones.

Chase King, 38, was convicted as charged by a petit jury last week of cruelty to a juvenile, for the broken femur, broken wrist, fractured skull and other injuries that the infant received while under her father’s care in the efficiency apartment in the 2300 block of Pasadena Avenue they shared with the baby’s mother.

Indicating he would have handed down a stronger sentence if he could, Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court noted that King is “an intelligent man” whose only admission in the case was that he slapped his daughter in face only once. King had no explanation for the serious injuries he was convicted of causing.

“At some point, you’re going to have to admit what you did,” Judge Schlegel told King, who holds a master’s degree in education. “You are hereby remanded” to state prison to begin the sentence.

A Children’s Hospital doctor in New Orleans notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on July 15, 2015, after noticing the baby had the injuries. King admitted to slapping the baby once and then calling his wife at her work to tell her “I just clobbered the kid,” he told the case detective during the interrogation.

His defense team cited King’s cerebral palsy, which affected his motor skills, as an explanation for what could have caused the accidental injuries. On Thursday, his attorney asked for leniency, saying King had no criminal record and no longer lives with his daughter and so isn’t a threat to her or anyone else. The defense requested probation, in part because of his medical condition.

Judge Schlegel rejected the leniency request, noting that the infant’s femur was completely broken into two and the wrist had a radial fracture, injuries incurred days before the baby’s parents brought her to the hospital.

The judge noted the cerebral palsy wasn’t to blame for the baby’s injuries. “This has to do with your intentional act, when you ‘clobbered’ your child,” Judge Schlegel told him.

King’s wife, Judith King, 38, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of child abandonment on Jan. 15, for not going to her daughter’s aid after her husband called saying he “clobbered the kid.” She entered an Alford plea, in which she did not admit guilt but pleaded guilty in light of the evidence against her. Judge Schlegel deferred a prison sentence and ordered her to serve one year of active probation.

Assistant District Attorneys Rhonda Goode-Douglas and Marko Marjanovic prosecuted Mr. King.

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Waggaman man convicted of raping friend as she slept off drug binge

A Waggaman man was convicted as charged Wednesday (Sept. 12) of the simple rape of an admitted drug addict who said the man she considered a trusted friend sexually abused her as she attempted to sleep off a days-long narcotics binge.

Larry Marcel, 63, faces up to 25 years in prison for raping the 35-year-old woman in his Rosalie Drive apartment on Dec. 5, 2014. The victim, now age 37, testified Tuesday that she had known Marcel about 10 years, “occasionally” using drugs with him and having dated one of his brothers.

She said she never had a sexual relationship with Marcel. “I trusted him, definitely,” she testified.

On the night in question, however, she said Marcel let her “detox” in his bed in an attempt to cleanse her body of the narcotics. A couple that was visiting the apartment wanted to use that bedroom, so the victim testified that she moved to a guest room and returned to sleep.

She testified that at one point, she woke feeling “a very uncomfortable pain, a sharp pain,” later learning the tampon she was using was pushed up inside her body.

“As soon as I flinched, he flinched, and he rolled over like he was sleeping,” the victim testified.

She left the room, found a phone and called her mother to pick her up. She didn’t call police until Dec. 16, 2014, 11 days after the rape. “I didn’t know if anybody would believe me … because I’m an addict,” she testified.

Marcel denied raping her, saying in one of his several contradictive statements to detectives that it was consensual. His defense team asserted she gave likewise gave numerous contradictions in her statements about the crime.

After the rape was reported, an acquaintance of the victim came forward, telling the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office case detective, Kay Horne, that Marcel sexually abused her under similar circumstances during the summer of 2013. She said she never reported it because she didn’t want her family to learn of it. The judge allowed the District Attorney’s Office to use the evidence in the trial against Marcel, but that woman declined to testify.

Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court set the sentencing hearing for Sept. 30.

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

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Harvey man pleads guilty to manslaughter in woman’s shooting death

A Harvey man facing trial this week for killing his girlfriend pleaded guilty on Monday morning (Sept. 19) to manslaughter and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Eric Alexander, 21, admitted he killed Ayesha Majeed, whom he shot three times during an argument on Feb. 1, 2014. Investigators believed that Majeed, 18, of Waggaman, was fleeing Alexander and ran to a home in the 3700 block of Clover Lane in Harvey, in search of help, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The homeowner, thinking someone was trying to break in, called 911. Deputies found Majeed’s body outside the front door, amid broken glass from the house. Majeed and Alexander had an intimate relationship, although Alexander had a girlfriend.

After killing Majeed, Alexander went to a breakfast restaurant on Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans, evidence shows. The Sheriff’s Office, in investigating the homicide, obtained surveillance video from the neighborhood showing Alexander and Majeed arguing on the street, five minutes before the gunfire.

Alexander, who lived near the shooting scene, surrendered to the Sheriff’s Office. He initially denied he was with Majeed at the time of the incident. He then asserted that they were the victims of a drive-by shooting.

In a letter she wrote to the court in lieu of live impact testimony, Majeed’s sister said her younger sister planned to study cosmetology or nursing, but instead was killed “in cold blood.”

“Ayesha’s life was just beginning,” the sister wrote, adding that their father died from a massive heart attack just three days after the homicide, a death the family attributes to Majeed’s passing.

“Eric Alexander has harmed several families with his harsh decision to murder Ayesha,” the sister wrote.

Alexander apologized to “the victim’s family,” he said in court, his back turned to Majeed’s family seated in the courtroom’s audience.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday morning, as Alexander was to stand trial on a charge of second-degree murder. On Friday, he turned down a negotiated plea offer reached between his attorneys and prosecutors with support from Majeed’s family, in which he would plead guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence.

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court told Alexander on Friday that the plea deal and 30-year sentence would no longer be available to him on Monday. On Monday morning, prosecutors were preparing to begin jury selection, when defense counsel inquired about the plea arrangement, leading to Alexander pleading guilty.

The case against Alexander, who was 19 at the time of the homicide, was built on circumstantial evidence, as there were no eye-witnesses who could link him to the homicide. The gun used in the homicide was never recovered.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Megan Gorman prosecuted the case.

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Two-time felon has prison sentence upped to 75 years

A Metairie man who already was serving a 50-year prison sentence for shooting a woman 11 times during an Avondale home invasion saw his punishment increase to 75 years on Friday (Sept. 16).

Danny “Noonie” Saulny, 25, was convicted as charged in June of attempted second-degree murder, home invasion and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, for the crime he carried out in 2014. For that, he received a 50-year prison sentence, the maximum.

On Friday, Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court ruled that Saulny is a two-time felon under Louisiana’s habitual offender law. Noting how Saulny shot a woman 11 times, Judge Regan vacated the 50-year sentence he handed down in July and resentenced Saulny to 75 years.

“The court was particularly appalled by the cruel nature of the crime, in that the victim was shot 11 times,” Judge Regan said in announcing the new sentence. “What made it worse, in the court’s opinion, is the victim knew Danny Saulny and went to school with him. The victim was shot and left for dead. It was by the grace of god that the victim survived.”

The victim, then a 23-year-old woman, was accosted in her kitchen in the 100 block of Madiera Drive on Jan. 13, 2014, as she was preparing a meal, according to trial testimony. Saulny and an unnamed cohort entered and told her “give me everything you got,” the victim testified.

She recognized Saulny, whom she knew from elementary school by the nickname “Noonie.” Saulny dragged her from the kitchen to a bedroom, where the gunmen robbed and shot her. She remained on the floor motionless as the gunmen fled, and she then went to a neighbor’s home, where the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office was notified.

She underwent several surgeries, and remained in a coma after the shooting. “God kept me here for a reason, and I am happy I testified against you to get you off the street and keep you from harming anyone else,” the victim testified during the July 18 sentencing hearing, when Judge Regan handed down the 50-year sentence.

On Friday, prosecutors sought a ruling declaring Saulny as a double offender. Judge Regan ruled that prosecutors met their burden in proving that Saulny was, in fact, a double offender. Saulny’s latest known victim was not present.

Saulny’s prior offense was a 2011 conviction of using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, being an aggravated second-degree battery. Saulny pleaded guilty to a shooting-related incident and received a six-year prison sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Blair Constant and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

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Marrero man convicted of molesting two girls

A Marrero man was convicted as charged late Wednesday (Sept. 14), of molesting two girls in his home.

Ricky Gros, 51, was convicted of two counts of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13, and of indecent behavior with a juvenile. The offenses occurred over a period of time beginning in 2006, when the victims were under the age of 10.

Gros was acquainted with the girls, both of whom were 7 years old when he first touched them inappropriately while they visited his James Drive home. One of the victims testified that Gros had both them sit on his lap while on his sofa, where he gave them bubble gum, and that he put his hand in their pants and touched them inappropriately.

The victims’ disclosure was delayed for more than one year after the last incident in 2009, until one of the girls told a family member. That victim’s mother, in turned, called the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in October 2010, according to trial testimony.

After the investigation began, the mother and her daughter encountered Gros in public on three different occasions. At the time, the suspect was free from custody on bond. On one of those incidents, they ran into Gros at a grocery, when the mother noted her daughter’s reaction, the mother testified.

“She grabbed ahold of me and started shaking,” the mother testified. Her daughter said, “’He’s here, he’s here.’ I said, who?” The mother said she looked up and saw Gros standing in front of them.

According to the mother’s testimony, as a result of the abuse, the girl tried to commit suicide five times, was pulled out of school, sees a psychiatrist and is prescribed medication. “It’s been very hard for her to cope with life in general,” the mother testified.

Gros, who testified, denied abusing the girls, both of whom testified against him. He asserted it would have been physically impossible to touch the girls under the circumstances they described.

The Jefferson Parish jury returned with its verdict just before midnight Wednesday, finding Gros guilty of all three counts. At the time of the trial, Gros was free on bond but was remanded to the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna to await his sentencing.

He faces 25 years to life in prison for the sexual battery and two years to 25 years for the indecent behavior charge, in addition to a lifetime of sex offender registration if he is released.

Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Gros on Oct. 12.

Assistant District Attorneys Josh Vanderhooft and Blair Constant prosecuted the case.

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Metairie man convicted of cruelty to 4-month-old daughter

A Metairie man faces up to 10 years in prison for his conviction of causing injuries to his 4-month-old daughter that included a fractured skull and a broken wrist and leg.

Chase King, 38, was convicted as charged Wednesday night (Sept. 14) of cruelty to a juvenile, for the injuries that led a Children’s Hospital doctor to notify police on July 15, 2015. The offense involves the intentional or criminally negligent mistreatment or neglect that causes “unjustifiable pain or suffering” to a child, according to the statute.

King’s daughter had a blackened eye, bruising and a small cut on her face, a broken left femur and a broken right wrist. Prosecutors argued that the child’s skull was fractured days before she was brought to Children’s Hospital.

King, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was the child’s primary caregiver while his wife, Judith King, was at work. He told a detective during the interrogation that he cared for his daughter in the couple’s “cramped” efficiency apartment in the 2300 block of Pasadena Avenue.

He denied losing his temper with the child but admitted he slapped her “across the face” as she lay in her crib on the day before the baby was brought to the hospital. After striking her, he said he called his wife and said, “I just clobbered the kid,” he told Detective Kelly Kron of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office during the video-taped interrogation, which jurors saw.

Of the skull fracture, King speculated it happened accidentally when he lifted his daughter over his head, causing the child’s head to strike the ceiling. “She cried,” King told the detective. “We didn’t think anything of it.”

Of the broken wrist, King said the injury could have been caused as he pulled his daughter’s arm through a sleeve while dressing her.

As to what caused his daughter’s broken femur, he said, “I have no clue.”

King, who holds a master’s degree in educational ministry, expressed frustration over his struggle with cerebral palsy and being the primary caregiver in the small apartment, but he denied intentionally harming the child. His defense team suggested the injuries were the result of accidents caused, in part, by his cerebral palsy, which affected his motor skills.

Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court scheduled King’s sentencing hearing for Sept. 22.

Judith King, 38, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of child abandonment on Jan. 15, for not going to her daughter’s aid after her husband called saying he “clobbered the kid.” She entered an Alford plea, in which she did not admit guilt but pleaded guilty in light of the evidence against her. Judge Schlegel deferred a prison sentence and ordered her to serve one year of active probation.

Assistant District Attorneys Rhonda Goode-Douglas and Marko Marjanovic prosecuted Mr. King.

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New Orleans man convicted of possessing, distributing heroin

A New Orleans man who already served prison time for illegal narcotics was convicted Wednesday night (Sept. 14) of being a heroin dealer in connection with the 50 grams of the narcotic that deputies found during the investigation, most of it stashed in the Metairie motel room he shared with his then-girlfriend.

Clarence Dixon, 34, was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury of possession with intent to distribute heroin and of attempted possession of cocaine. Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court plans to sentence Dixon in October.

Dixon and his then-girlfriend, Jenny Montecino, 34, of Metairie, were arrested on Jan. 23, 2015, when about 9:15 p.m., they were pulled over in a traffic stop in the 6500 block of Airline Drive. Two reserve Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies initiated the stop after noticing the license plate registration had expired for the couple’s 2001 Nissan Pathfinder, according to testimony.

Dixon and Montecino had active attachments for their arrests and were taken into custody. Montecino, who also was driving without insurance and with an expired driver’s license, readily admitted she had .8 grams of cocaine and five grams of heroin stashed in her underwear, reserve Deputy Salvador Provenzano testified.

Following the traffic stop, Montecino immediately said the narcotics belonged to Dixon, the father of her child. She testified that Dixon ordered her to “stuff it” in her underwear about 15 minutes before they were pulled over, as she drove him to make a drug transaction.

“He didn’t want to hold them (the illegal narcotics) because of the repercussions of his background,” she testified Wednesday. “He didn’t want to get into trouble.”

She testified that she didn’t want to take the blame for his narcotics, either. “I didn’t want to get in trouble,” Montecino testified. “It wasn’t mine.”

During the traffic stop, Provenzano noticed Dixon in the front passenger seat, furtively handling a large amount of cash that he stuffed in a purse in the center console, he testified.

The investigation lead the detectives to the couple’s motel room in the 5700 block of Airline Drive, where the couple acquired a room in Montecino’s name about six weeks earlier, according to testimony.

The detectives found a digital scale, two bottles of room sanitizer the deputies said could be used to cut or dilute narcotics and Dixon’s identification card. They found 44.9 grams of heroin in a red plastic container on a shelf in the closet, Detective Nicholas Buttone testified.

Pursuant to a court order, the detectives seized $2,568 in currency as proceeds from illegal narcotics sales, in dominations ranging from $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and $1 bills, Buttone testified.

Montecino pleaded guilty on Oct. 15 to simple possession of heroin and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. She testified against Dixon, per her plea agreement, and faces a punishment ranging from probation up to 15 years in prison. She will receive her sentence next month.

She testified that she feared Dixon, and that he purchased the Pathfinder from a man she identified only as “Jason.” The vehicle was registered to a Pineville, La., woman whom she did not know, and she also testified that she drove Dixon to conduct his narcotics transactions.

Dixon’s attorney argued that the narcotics belonged to Montecino, whom he said falsely blamed her boyfriend to save herself.

Dixon pleaded guilty to similar offenses – possession of heroin and possession of cocaine – in the 24th Judicial District Court in March 2010 and received a 5-year prison sentence, records show. Those convictions stem from his June 2009 arrest, after deputies found .8 grams of heroin and 4.7 grams of crack cocaine in a Shrewsbury Court residence.

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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