Month: December 2018

New Orleans man on 4-state crime spree convicted of Kenner armed robbery

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Dec. 13) found a New Orleans man guilty of robbing a Kenner business, part of a crime spree in which he committed similar heists in four states during a three-month period in early 2014.

Steven J. Rodney, 34, was convicted as charged of the armed robbery of the Walmart at 300 West Esplanade Ave., on March 7, 2014.

About 8:30 p.m., Rodney approached a 25-year-old employee working at a check-out register, lifted his shirt to reveal a pistol and then pointed it at her before returning it to his pants waistband, according to the Kenner Police Department. He ordered the employee to escort him to near an exit, where he fled with about $1,500, according to trial evidence.

Rodney arrived in the area on a commercial flight from Las Vegas on March 5, 2014, according to trial evidence. The day after, on March 6, he is accused of robbing the American Apparel store in the 3300 block of Magazine Street in New Orleans. And then, on March 8, 2014, the day after the Kenner robbery, he returned by air to Las Vegas, according to trial evidence.

Kenner and New Orleans police detectives determined that the same suspect committed both crimes. With the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, police identified Rodney as the robber.

In all, between January 2014 and March 2014, Rodney robbed businesses in Colorado, California, Nevada and Kenner and New Orleans, traveling by commercial airlines between the locations to commit the crimes.

Rodney admitted to the Jefferson Parish jury that he committed the crimes to feed his addiction to Oxycodone. He denied using a dangerous weapon, asserting he used a toy gun that shoots rubber projectiles. As such, he asserted he was not guilty of armed robbery.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated about an hour before returning its verdict. Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Rodney on Jan. 8.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.

New Orleans man gets 20 years for orchestrating violent Harvey home invasion

A Jefferson Parish judge has sentenced a New Orleans man to 20 years in prison, after the defendant admitted to orchestrating a Harvey home invasion in which a resident was shot during an exchange of gunfire.

With jury selection underway in his trial on Wednesday (Dec. 12), Jermaine Robinson, 44, pleaded guilty as charged to aggravated burglary. He admitted that he recruited two men to help rob the residents of a home in the 2400 block of Tattersall Drive on the evening of Feb. 9, 2017.

Robinson asserted that he concocted the scheme in an effort to recoup money that a relative of his lost to a resident of the Tattersall Drive home. That resident ran a gambling operation in New Orleans, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Robinson drove his co-defendants, Fred Daniels, 47, of New Orleans, and Clifton Lampton, 50, of Baton Rouge, to the home. Daniels and Lampton forced the male resident inside at gunpoint, beat him and forced him to the ground after demanding money. Robinson remained in his vehicle.

The man’s wife, seeing her husband being beaten, retrieved a pistol, leading to an exchange of gunfire with Daniels, according the Sheriff’s Office. The woman was shot in an arm.

On Oct. 28, Daniels pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, aggravated burglary and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He received a 20-year sentence.

Lampton, who had no prior criminal history, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary on May 31 and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

A jury was seated Wednesday in Robinson’s trial when he decided to plead guilty. In accepting the plea, Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Robinson to 20 years.

Assistant District Attorneys Matt Clauss and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.

Teddy Chester sentenced to life in ’95 cabbie murder

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Dec. 12) sentenced Teddy Chester to life in prison for shooting a cab driver in the back of his head during an armed robbery attempt.

Chester, 41, was convicted as charged during his retrial last month of second-degree murder in the Dec. 27, 1995 death of John Adams, 34, a driver for a Kenner-based taxi cab company who died after being dispatched to Calhoun Street.

“It took 20 seconds to take his life,” Bonnie James, fiancée of Mr. Adams’ brother, said in impact testimony Wednesday. “Our family was changed forever.”

In 1997, Chester was convicted of first-degree murder and spent 22 years on Louisiana’s death row until a federal judge this year ruled that his original attorney committed several errors during the first trial, depriving him of his constitutional right to effective representation. The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office opted to retry Chester for second-degree murder.

After denying defense motions for a new trial, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Chester to the mandatory life sentence in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. “To the family of Mr. Adams, I am very sorry for your loss,” Judge Kovach said in handing down the sentence.

Chester’s co-defendant, Elbert Ratcliff, is serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the murder.

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

Vincenzo Randazzo pleads guilty to fatal hammer attack on elderly Kenner couple

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Dec. 3) sentenced Vincenzo “Jake” Randazzo to life in prison with parole eligibility, after he pleaded guilty as charged to attacking an elderly Kenner couple with a hammer, killing the man and injuring his wife.

Randazzo, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in connection with the July 19, 2017, attack on Phillip Lynch Sr., 89, and his 70-year-old wife Anita in their Kenner home. Mr. Lynch died from his injuries caused by blunt force trauma on Aug. 4, 2017.

Randazzo, who had just turned 16 years old at the time, knew the Lynches. The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Randazzo as an adult and filed notice with the court announcing its intention to seek a life sentence without parole eligibility.

However, pursuant to a plea agreement with Randazzo’s public defenders, the District Attorney’s Office withdrew the notice, meaning he will be eligible to apply for parole in 25 years because he is a juvenile.

Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court, in accepting the plea, sentenced Randazzo to life with parole eligibility for the first-degree murder and 25 years for the attempted second-degree murder. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Judge Schlegel sentenced Randazzo after hearing impact testimony from Anita Lynch and three of Mr. Lynch’s five children.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Matthew Whitworth prosecuted the case.