Month: January 2018

DA Paul Connick’s statement on the conviction in Joe McKnight’s death

We offer our most sincere condolences to the McKnight family and hope they can find peace in knowing that justice has been served in this case. We also want to thank the jurors for their service and incredible attentiveness they spent following the evidence.

  • District Attorney Paul D. Connick Jr.

Assistant District Attorneys Shannon Swaim and Seth Shute speak to news media following Ronald Gasser’s conviction of manslaughter for killing former NFL running back Joe McKnight on Dec. 1, 2016 in Terrytown. After hearing testimony over six days, the jury returned with its verdict on Jan. 26, 2018. Judge Ellen Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set the sentencing for March 15.

Avondale man convicted of murdering Kenner couple in their bed

An Avondale man was convicted Friday night (Jan. 26), of killing a couple as they slept in their bed in Kenner, even as an infant lay between the victims.

Shaun Barnett, 30, faces life in prison for his conviction of two counts of first-degree murder for the April 4, 2016, deaths of Dawn Scott, 28, and Raynell Kimbrough, 31.

The couple was asleep at their apartment in the 2100 block of Idaho Street, when about 6:30 a.m., Barnett entered through the back door. He shot Scott once in the head. Kimbrough woke, and Barnett shot him in the face at close range and in the body. He then shot Scott in her body before leaving the apartment.

A child in the house heard the gunshots and saw Barnett leaving. The child discovered the bodies, walked his brother out to alert a neighbor. That neighbor investigated and called 911.

Police found Scott in bed with the infant to her right. The infant was not injured. Kimbrough was on the floor.

The Kenner Police Department determined Barnett and Kimbrough were friends and had been at a daiquiri shop in Avondale together the night before. Using cell phone data and a license plate recognition system, detectives were able to create a timeline to retrace Barnett’s travels in his gold Ford Taurus, across the Huey P. Long Bridge to Kimbrough’s apartment.

Following an argument with Scott, Barnett departed, only to return to kill the couple. Detectives later found the military-style jacket Barnett was wearing in a hamper at his home, with Kimbrough’s blood on it, DNA testing proved. The detectives also found some of Scott’s belongings in Barnett’s car and at a New Orleans residence, according to testimony.

Barnett denied committing the murders. His attorneys argued that evidence was lacking and the case was not sufficiently investigated.

Barnett also was convicted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was barred from possessing guns because of six previous convictions for narcotics and property crimes in Jefferson Parish.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated just over one hour before delivering its verdict. Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court will sentence Barnett on Feb. 8.

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

‘My mother was a wonderful woman,’ daughter writes as dad sentenced to life for her murder

A New Orleans man who was convicted this month of killing his ex-wife in front of their children was sentenced Thursday (Jan. 25) to a mandatory life sentence in prison.

Ronald Mitchell Sr., 39, shot Derice Bailey, 35, in the head and chest as they stood in the kitchen of her Aero Street home on Dec. 2, 2016.

The couple, which was attempting reconciliation, were arguing over Mitchell’s accusations of her infidelity. Her friends went to the home to attempt to mediate the dispute. Mitchell brandished a .38-caliber revolver and ordered the friends out of the house. They called 911.

Their children, then ages 9 and 13, remained inside with their parents, pleading with their father as he shot their mother. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies responding to the 911 call were outside the house and heard the gunshots. Inside, Mitchell put the pistol down, walked out of the house and surrendered, later confessing to his deed, according to trial evidence.

At trial, Mitchell’s attorney argued that it was a case of self-defense, saying a man he could not identify was hiding in the garage.

The jury deliberated less than 15 minutes on Jan. 12, in finding Mitchell guilty as charged of second-degree murder and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The couple’s daughter, who witnessed the homicide with her younger brother, wrote a letter to the court as impact testimony, telling the judge that she loves her mother and father.

“My mother was a wonderful woman. If you met her you would have thought the same thing,” she wrote to 24th Judicial District Judge E. Adrian Adams.

Judge Adams then sentenced Mitchell to the mandatory life sentence for the murder and 20 years for the firearm charge. Judge Adams ran the sentences concurrently.

Mitchell was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a 2003 conviction of the simple robbery of a Metairie business. He received a 5-year prison sentence for that crime.

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

New Orleans man convicted of murdering his ex-wife in Metairie

A New Orleans man with a history of domestic abuse was convicted Friday (Jan. 12) of killing his ex-wife in her Metairie home, ignoring their young children’s pleas before shooting her in the chest and head.

Ronald Mitchell Sr., 39, faces spending the rest of his life in prison for the second-degree murder of Derice Bailey, 35. Mitchell’s history of domestic violence and drug abuse in the relationship dated to 2007 in both New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, but Bailey repeatedly gave him second chances, according to evidence presented during the trial.

In Bailey’s final days, Mitchell accused her of cheating, a baseless accusation that culminated Dec. 2, 2016, with his shooting her as she stood in the kitchen of her Aero Street home and professed her love for him, according to trial evidence.

“He obsessed about his ex-wife cheating on him. And lo and behold, his ex-wife wasn’t cheating on him. What a tragic, tragic mistake he made,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told jurors in closing argument.

“He looked at her. He aimed at her and he fired. And he fired again. His own words shows intent: ‘If I’m going to jail, I’m going for a reason,’” Assistant District Attorney Molly Massey told jurors. “He wanted this breakup to be the last, and that equals murder.”

Mitchell also was found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, for retrieving a .38-caliber revolver he stashed at a vacant house before going to Bailey’s home. He was prohibited by state law from possessing firearms because of a 2003 conviction of the simple robbery of a Metairie business, for which he received a 5-year prison sentence.

Mitchell and Bailey were divorced. In the months before her death, she and Mitchell were attempting reconciliation. On the night she died, several of her friends went to her home to attempt to mediate the ongoing dispute over his accusations of her infidelity, according to trial evidence.

In the home, Mitchell brandished the revolver and forced the friends out of the house, leading them to call 911. He tried to force out their children, then ages 9 and 13, but they remained with their mother. The children begged their father to not shoot their mother.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived but were unable to get inside the house. The deputies heard the gunshots. Moments later, Mitchell emerged from the house with his arms raised and surrendered, telling the officers he was “tired of her cheating,” Rish said. Deputies found his revolver inside the house.

Mitchell later confessed to Detective Jean Lincoln, telling her that Bailey did not deserve to die as she did.

“He said he loved her to death. He loved her to death,” Rish told jurors, recounting Mitchell’s confession.

At trial, however, Mitchell’s attorney told jurors he was defending himself, suggesting he felt threatened by a man hiding in Bailey’s garage, and that the killing was justified. Mitchell did not testify in his own defense.

At the time he killed Bailey, Mitchell was awaiting trial on charges of domestic abuse battery and making harassing phone calls in Jefferson Parish, both involving his ex-wife as the victim.

The jury of eight women and four men that was seated on Tuesday deliberated 15 minutes before returning with the verdicts at 5 p.m., Friday.

Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Mitchell on Jan. 25.

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