Month: December 2019

Todd Williams gets 21 years for killing 3 Good Samaritans in DWI crash

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Dec. 9) sentenced Todd Williams to a total of 21 years in prison for killing three Good Samaritans and injuring two others while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Williams, 40, of New Orleans, pleaded guily as charged guilty to three felony counts of vehicular homicide for the deaths of the Rev. Claude Luther Williams, Jr., 40, of Gretna; his friend Williams J. Leinart, 49, of Gretna; and Joseph Chopin, 66, of Marrero.

About 10:30 p.m., on June 16, a motorist was traveling east on the elevated Westbank Expressway near MacArthur Boulevard when one of the tires of her 2017 Hyundai Accent blew out. That caused her car to strike the concrete rail and come to a rest facing oncoming traffic in the left and center lanes, according to Louisiana State Police.

The Rev. Williams and his passenger Leinart stopped to assist the motorist, as did Chopin, who was driving separately. The three men and passengers from the Hyundai stood outside their vehicles.

Todd Williams, driving a 2015 Chevrolet Impala in the left lane, struck the Hyundai, which in turn struck another vehicle and pedestrians. Claude Williams, who was on the phone with a 911 operator when the crash occurred, Leinart and Chopin were thrown over the side and fell 30 feet to their deaths. Other motorists were injured.

Williams blood-alcohol content was .11 percent, above the .08-percent legal limit to drive.

On Monday, after hearing a letter of forgiveness written by the Rev. Williams’ wife and read aloud by a prosecutor, and hearing Todd Williams express sorrow and remorse, Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced the defendant to seven years in prison for each count of vehicular homicide. Judge Miller ran the sentences consecutively, for a total of 21 years.

Todd Williams also pleaded guilty as charged to two misdemeanor counts of vehicular negligent inuring, for which he received two six-month sentences. Judge Miller ran those sentences concurrent to the 21-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.

Irwin Gomez-Colon guilty of brutal stabbing, strangulation murder

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Dec. 5) found Irwin Gomez-Colon guilty of brutally stabbing and strangling a woman in her Terrytown apartment.

Gomez-Colon, 34, is guilty as charged of second-degree murder in the April 22, 2017, death of Nancy Yahaira Gomez Rodriguez, 33, a native of the Dominican Republic. Gomez-Colon and Rodriguez knew each other and lived in neighboring apartment complexes, according to trial evidence.

According to evidence presented at trial this week, Rodriguez was stabbed 24 times in her back and strangled in her apartment in the 2100 block of Empire Place. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the crime, found her bloody fingerprint on the apartment entry door, indicating she tried to escape as Gomez-Colon stabbed her.

Gomez-Colon was arrested two days after he killed Rodriguez, after he was linked to the crime through his DNA, which was recovered from a used condom that deputies found in her blood on the floor next to her body, according to trial evidence.

On Rodriguez’s kitchen countertop at the sink, deputies found his blood and evidence suggesting he attempted to clean up after killing her. He suffered two stab wounds on his right shoulder and a laceration on the palm of his right hand that is indicative of a slippage wound, caused when his hand slid down the blade as he stabbed the victim.

The jury also heard that Gomez-Colon had been arrested but never prosecuted for the alleged rapes of three other women, in Houston, Texas, in April 2014; in New Orleans in April 2015 and Jacksonville, Fla., in April 2016. Each of those women testified this week about how Gomez-Colon strangled them during the act, showing similarities to what happened to Rodriguez.

The jury deliberated about an hour before returning with its unanimous verdict. Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Gomez-Colon to life in prison with no probation, parole or suspension of sentence on Jan. 6.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.

Marrero man guilty of attempted murder of store clerk

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (Dec. 4) found Janarius Carey guilty of shooting a Marrero convenience store clerk before he himself was shot after repeatedly pointing his pistol at a deputy who was responding to the crime.

Carey, 26, of Marrero, was convicted as charged of the attempted second-degree murder of an 18-year-old clerk at a convenience store at Barataria Boulevard and the Westbank Expressway. The jury, which deliberated under three hours, acquitted Carey of attempting to rob the store and of aggravated assault with a firearm.

According to evidence presented at trial, about 4 a.m., on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, Carey attempted to enter the store with a mask covering his face. He approached a locked door, where the clerk questioned him about the mask, according to trial testimony. Upon seeing Carey holding a pistol, the victim ran to and locked the other door and retreated to the rear storage area to call 911.

As the victim spoke with a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office 911 operator, Carey fired his pistol into the door and entered. The victim lunged for the pistol, and the two men wrestled. During the melee, Carey shot the victim in his back, the bullet exiting his abdomen.

Carey was still inside the store when the first deputy arrived. During the foot pursuit that followed, Carey pointed his pistol at a deputy three times, acts that formed the basis for the aggravated assault charge. The deputy fired his service pistol four times at Carey, who was shot once in the right thigh. Carey was apprehended across Barataria Boulevard from the store.

Ballistics evidence presented at trial showed that Carey’s pistol misfired after he shot the victim, indicating he tried to shoot the victim a second time.

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Carey on Dec. 12.

UPDATE: On Dec. 12, Carey’s sentencing hearing was reset for Jan. 9, 2020.

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




‘Harvey Hustlers’ narcotics supplier sentenced to life for Marrero murder

A judge on Monday (Dec. 2) sentenced Alcus Smith to life in prison for his conviction of killing Donte Hall in Marrero.

Smith, 32, of Harvey, was convicted by a jury on Oct. 31 of the second-degree murder of Hall, 22, who was shot multiple times in the 2600 block of Pelican Bay Boulevard on Nov. 15, 2013.

Smith was a narcotics trafficker who supplied the notorious West Bank gang “Harvey Hustlers,” according to evidence presented at trial. Smith killed Hall believing that Hall cheated him in a narcotics transaction, according to trial evidence.

Smith already is serving a 65-year sentence for his 2015 conviction of racketeering, conspiracy to distribute narcotics and distribution of cocaine. Smith was charged in a case against the Harvey Hustlers that was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

After denying post-verdict motions and hearing impact testimony from Hall’s mother on Monday, retired Judge Raymond Bigelow, sitting pro tempore at the 24th Judicial District Court, sentenced Smith to the mandatory life sentence for killing Hall. Judge Bigelow ran the life sentence concurrent with the 65-year sentence Smith already is serving.

Assistant District Attorneys Seth Shute and Doug Freese prosecuted the case.