Year: 2022

Justin ‘Jeeky’ Hutchinson guilty of murdering New Orleans man at Marrero bar & grill

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday night (May 26) found Justin A. “Jeeky” Hutchinson guilty as charged of second-degree murder for shooting a New Orleans man repeatedly outside a Marrero bar and grill.

Using his 9mm semiautomatic pistol, Hutchinson, 32, of Marrero, shot Rashad Lewis once in the head, five times in his left abdomen and once in the pelvis as he sat in the driver’s seat of his parents’ 2016 Mercedes Benz SUV.

Hutchinson then grabbed Lewis’ .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol from inside the vehicle and fired repeatedly at the SUV. In all, Hutchinson fired 17 bullets at Lewis and Lewis’ SUV.

Lewis, 29, died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds.

The shooting happened about 10 p.m., on Oct. 21, 2020, in a bar and grill parking lot in the 6500 block of Lapalco Boulevard. Lewis was among about 50 people gathered at the business to celebrate the memory of a friend who had been killed in New Orleans. Lewis was friends with that victim’s brother.

Immediately after shooting Lewis, Hutchinson ran by the entrance to the bar and waived the pistol at the patrons inside before he ran on. Hutchinson was known to many people in that part of Marrero.

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office juvenile detective who just completed curfew checks happened to be driving by, heard the gunfire and saw a man dressed in distinctive clothing — Hutchinson – running from the scene. The detective saw the suspect discard the 9mm pistol in a yard in the 2000 block of Betty Street. Sheriff’s Office ballistics experts later concluded that pistol was used in this crime. The .40-caliber pistol was not recovered.

The crime was recorded by a video surveillance system, and jurors were shown the recordings. The video showed Hutchinson and Lewis exchanging words several times in the minutes before the shooting. Further, Hutchinson was identified as the shooter.

Investigators also found Hutchinson’s social media posts from that evening, in which he told his followers two hours before he shot Lewis that he was at the Lapalco Boulevard bar and grill. After killing Lewis, Hutchinson remained at large for more than three weeks, when he surrendered to the Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to the murder charge, Hutchinson was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice, for removing the pistols from the scene.

He also was convicted as charged of two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was legally prohibited from possessing guns because of a 2015 conviction of aggravated assault with a firearm. One count is based on his having the 9mm pistol, and the second one stems from his possessing Lewis’ .40-caliber pistol.

Hutchinson’s attorney argued that his client is innocent and was framed. Jurors deliberated almost 3 ½ hours before delivering its guilty verdicts.

Judge R. Christopher Cox III of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Hutchinson on June 15.

Assistant District Attorneys Laura Schneidau and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.

Hoang M. Le convicted of sexual battery of a juvenile

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (May 24) convicted Hoang M. Le of sexually molesting a child over an 11-year period.

Le, 32, of Harvey, is guilty as charged of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13 and sexual battery. Both counts involve the same victim, who was 6 years old when the abuse began in 2009. The abuse continued into 2020, when the victim was 17 and the crimes were reported to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The jury deliberated three hours before returning its verdict about 8 p.m., Tuesday. Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Le on Tuesday (May 31).

Assistant District Attorneys Gabrielle Hosli and Eric Cusimano prosecuted the case.

Everette Campbell pleads guilty to role in Marrero homicide, gets 35-year sentence

A Jefferson Parish judge on Tuesday (May 24) sentenced Everette Campbell to 35 years in prison for his role in an attempted robbery during which his codefendant shot four people, killing two of them.

Campbell, 26, of Terrytown, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and one count of obstruction of justice.

The codefendant, Malik McGinnis, 25, of Avondale, has been convicted of being the gunman who shot and killed the two people and shot and injured two others.

The crime occurred just before 10 p.m., on Sept. 4, 2019, inside a four-bedroom home in the 3000 block of Sorbonne Drive. McGinnis, who had been acquainted with the victims, and Campbell went to the residence planning to steal from a resident who sold marijuana.

However, McGinnis shot and killed Ronald Eddington, 21. McGinnis then shot and killed Eddington’s 7-year-old sister. Her 11-year-old sister was shot in her left forearm. And a 19-year-old family friend was shot in his stomach as he wrestled with McGinnis.

During his jury trial, McGinnis was convicted as charged on Feb. 17 of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to life in prison on March 8.

A jury was selected on Monday to weigh evidence against Campbell. He was prosecuted as a principal to second-degree murder but offered Tuesday to plead guilty to the lesser offense of manslaughter. His attorneys told jurors during opening statements Monday that while Campbell was present in the residence, he did not shoot anyone and was unaware that McGinnis was going to shoot anyone.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court presided over both cases. In accepting the guilty plea, Judge Mentz sentenced Campbell to 35 years in prison for each count of manslaughter and obstruction of justice, with one count of manslaughter to be served without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence. The sentences were run concurrent to each other and with a 6-month jail term for possession of risperidone without a prescription.

On Monday, Campbell also pleaded guilty to cultivation of marijuana and received a 5-year sentence. While investigating the Marrero homicides, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives discovered that Campbell was growing marijuana in his South Forest Lawn Drive apartment.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted Campbell and McGinnis.

Tyronne Louis gets 50-year sentence for shooting JPSO deputy during domestic dispute

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (May 12) sentenced Tyronne Louis to 50 years in prison, after the defendant pleaded guilty as charged to the attempted first-degree murder of a police officer.

Louis, 42, of New Orleans, also pleaded guilty as charged to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, second-degree kidnapping and to misdemeanor charges of aggravated assault and battery of a dating partner.

The charges stem from a domestic dispute on Dec. 9, 2018, at a hotel in the 6400 block of Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie, where Louis slapped and pointed a pistol at a female victim in a room. Shortly after, they left the room and walked through the lobby, where the victim was able to alert a hotel employee and lock herself in a restroom. The employee called 911.

Two Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies responded. As he was being escorted outside the hotel’s entrance for questioning, Louis ran. A deputy pursued him. In the parking lot just outside, Louis turned and fired three times at the deputy. Bullets struck the deputy in a shin and elbow.

Louis escaped but was arrested two days later at the bus and train station in New Orleans.

In accepting the plea, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Louis to the maximum sentence for attempted murder. Louis’s prior conviction of aggravated battery in 2005 was used as a sentencing enhancement on the attempted murder charge.

Judge Kovach also sentenced Louis to the maximum 20 years for the firearm offense; 40 years for the kidnapping, also the maximum; and six months for each of the two misdemeanors. Judge Kovach ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorneys Christina Fisher and Lindsay Truhe prosecuted the case.

Torus ‘T-Man’ Wallace guilty of Metairie killing over $35 drug debt

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (May 10) found Torus “T-Man” Wallace guilty of manslaughter for killing a Metairie man struggling with substance abuse over a $35 drug debt.

Wallace, 24, of Metairie, killed Rene Rachel, 32, as he sat in his vehicle in the 500 block of North Elm Street, waiting for an intermediary to deliver “MOJO,” a street name for synthetic marijuana.

Wallace also was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice for removing the .45-caliber pistol he used to kill Rachel from the scene.

Just after 6 p.m., on March 29, 2020, Rachel, who struggled with addiction, traveled from his Metairie home to the neighborhood near Airline Drive and David Drive to purchase narcotics. As he entered the neighborhood, he picked up the intermediary who would acquire the synthetic marijuana for him.

As Rachel waited, Wallace appeared on a bicycle and inquired about drugs and the debt. When Rachel rebuffed him, Wallace brandished the pistol and fired once through the passenger side window. The bullet went through Rachel’s right forearm and struck him in the upper chest. He died shortly after in the parking lot of a business at Airline Drive and David Drive.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office received a tip from a source indicating that “T-Man” was the killer. The Sheriff’s Office knew T-Man to be Wallace. Wallace was identified as the shooter by an eyewitness.

Jurors also heard testimony showing that four days before the shooting, Rachel went to the same neighborhood to acquire illegal narcotics and encountered Wallace. Wallace threatened to kill Rachel unless he paid the $35 drug debt.

Through his attorneys, Wallace denied shooting Rachel. His attorneys argued there was no credible evidence linking him to the crime.

Wallace was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a punishment of life in prison without parole, probation or suspension of sentence. The jury that was seated on Monday deliberated three hours before returning the lesser offense.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Wallace on May 26.

Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson and John Ransone prosecuted the case.

Convicted of fatally beating his girlfriend, Pedro Monterroso sentenced to life in prison

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (May 4) sentenced Pedro Monterroso to spend the rest of his life in prison for his conviction of beating his girlfriend to death as five of his children lay in a bed just feet away.

Monterroso, 51, received the mandatory sentence for his conviction of the second-degree murder of Heidy Monroy, 24.

During an argument over whether she was romantically involved with another man, Monterroso beat her with a length of rebar in the bathroom of their Durand Street apartment in Metairie on July 13, 2014.

Just outside the bathroom were five of his children, three of whom he fathered with Monroy.

Monterroso fled, leaving the two young sons he fathered with Monroy with their mother’s body in the bathtub. Those boys found their mother and alerted a neighbor, who notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Monterroso fled to Texas with the other three children and was arrested the following day.

After denying a defense request for a new trial, 24th Judicial District Judge Donald “Chick” Foret sentenced Monterroso to the mandatory punishment of life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Zach Popovich prosecuted the case.

Antonio Key guilty of planning, participating in Metairie aggravated burglary

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (April 27) found Antonio Key guilty of planning and participating in an aggravated burglary of a Metairie home in which a 67-year-old woman was severely beaten.

Key, 25, of Harvey, was convicted as charged of aggravated burglary with a firearm enhancement for his role in the April 30, 2019, crime in the 4600 block of Southshore Drive.

Key had been inside the home previously because of his job with an air conditioning company. As such, he was familiar with its complex floor plan. Key used his mobile phone to take photographs, including jewelry, and he began planning to return to commit the burglary.

Just before midnight on the night of the crime, Key and his cohorts, Rodgers Hart and Darius Daleo, arrived after traveling from the West Bank in a car that Key borrowed. Key and Hart, who wore masks, broke in through a back door while Daleo remained with the car. The residents, a 67-year-old woman and her 38-year-old daughter, were in their bedrooms when the men broke in. The daughter triggered the panic alarm.

The two men went upstairs and confronted the daughter. The mother, meanwhile, confronted the burglars, both of whom beat her. The burglars eventually fled, and the victims barricaded themselves in a bedroom until Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived, according to trial evidence.

A Louisiana State Police trooper spotted the suspects’ car on North Causeway Boulevard near Interstate 10 and attempted a traffic stop. The burglars led the trooper on a pursuit that ended near North Turnbull Drive and Johnson Street, where the driver lost control of the car and wrecked it. The three men fled on foot.

Daleo was the first to be caught. His arrest led to that of Hart, who got away that night by stealing a pizza deliverer’s car. Through their investigation, detectives identified Key as the third burglar. They arrested him days later, as he arrived at his job with the air conditioning company.

The Sheriff’s Office Digital Forensics Unit obtained incriminating evidence from cellular devices, including text messages and images that showed Key’s planning for the crime. And although Key denied involvement, his cell phone showed he was at the Southshore location when the crime unfolded, as well as in the vicinity of the wreck at North Turnbull and Johnson.

In testimony Wednesday, Key played up his service in the Marine Corps and asserted that he only had the idea of burglarizing the victims’ home. On the night of the crime, he only planned to drive to Southshore but had no intention of following through with it. He testified that he remained in the car while Daleo and Hart entered the home – an assertion directly contradicted by other evidence.

Daleo, 24, of Marrero, said he was the driver and asserted that it was Key who entered the home with Hart. Daleo pleaded guilty on Nov. 3, 2021, to aggravated burglary and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Hart, 26, of Marrero, pleaded guilty on Dec. 15, 2021, to the aggravated burglary, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to 18 years for the burglary, 10 years for the firearm offense and six months for the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The sentences were run concurrently, for a total of 18 years.

The jury in Key’s trial deliberated just over two hours before returning with its unanimous verdict. Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Key on May 17.

Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson and Zachary Grate prosecuted the case.

 

Terrance Leonard pleads guilty, gets 4 life sentences in Terrytown murders

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (April 21) sentenced Terrance Leonard to four consecutive life sentences in prison for beating his girlfriend and three children to death with a hammer in their Terrytown apartment.

Leonard, 36, pleaded guilty as charged to four counts of first-degree murder in the March 6, 2019, deaths of Kristina Riley, 32, her 14-year-old daughter, her 10-year-old son and her 9-year-old niece. In connection with his plea, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to not seek the death penalty.

He also pleaded guilty as charged to the attempted first-degree murder of another of Ms. Riley’s daughters, who was 12 years old at the time of the attack, and to obstruction of justice.

Leonard received a 50-year sentence for the attempted first-degree murder, run consecutive to the four life sentences, and a 40-year sentence for the obstruction of justice.

The crimes happened in their apartment in the 900 block of West Monterey Court. On the morning of March 6, 2019, Leonard’s mother found the victims suffering from head trauma and notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs’ Office.

Ms. Riley, her son and her niece died in the apartment. Her 14-year-old daughter died days later at a hospital.

After Ms. Riley’s mother provided impact testimony, Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Leonard.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Kellie Rish prosecuted the case.

Jury finds Arizona man guilty of negligent homicide in chokehold death

A Jefferson Parish judge on Friday (April 8) sentenced Vincent Medearis to five years in prison for his conviction of killing his inebriated coworker with a lethal chokehold in a Kenner hotel room two years ago.

The Friday morning sentencing hearing came about 18 hours after a jury found Medearis guilty of negligent homicide in the death of Isaias Fino, 39, of Goodyear, Ariz. Five years is the maximum sentence for negligent homicide under Louisiana law.

Medearis, 58, of Phoenix, Ariz., was charged with manslaughter. The jury deliberated about 2 ½ hours before returning with the negligent homicide verdict Thursday night. In doing so, jurors rejected Medearis’ self-defense claims.

In a victim-impact letter read aloud in court, Fino’s sisters asked for the maximum sentence. Although Fino was vilified in testimony during the trial, his sisters described him as the “kindhearted” father of a 5-year-old daughter whose death left “a void in (his mother’s) heart.”

Medearis expressed regret for his actions and asked Fino’s family to forgive him.

The men were employed by an Arizona-based roofing company and were in the New Orleans area for work, according to evidence presented at trial. They were staying in a hotel in the 2600 block of Williams Boulevard.

According to testimony, Fino, a foreman known among his subordinates for his obnoxious and abrasive personality, was drunk when about 9 p.m., on March 5, 2020, he went to a hotel room that Medearis shared with a roommate.

Hostile horseplay led to a physical altercation between Fino and the roommate, and then between Medearis and Fino, according to testimony. Medearis held Fino in a chokehold. The roommate told him to stop as Fino coughed and wheezed, according to testimony. Medearis told his roommate to report Fino’s behavior to their boss.

The roommate left the room to summon their boss, and when he returned, Fino was dead. Medearis remained on scene and called 911, according to testimony.

When Kenner Police Department Detective Nick Engler arrived at the hotel room, he found Medearis standing at the foot of the bed, smoking a cigarette and looking down on the body, the officer testified. In his statement to Detective Engler, Medearis said he held Fino in a chokehold until he stopped coughing and his body went limp.

Medearis’ chokehold caused a fracture in Fino’s thyroid cartilage. Fino died of asphyxia due to manual strangulation. Fino’s blood-alcohol content was .29 percent, more than three times over the legal limit to drive in Louisiana, according to evidence presented at trial.

Medearis, who had no violent criminal history, testified Thursday that he held Fino in a chokehold to restrain him. His attorneys argued that he was defending himself and asserted that the high alcohol content in Fino’s body could have hastened his death.

Prosecutors conceded that Medearis acted in the heat of blood, an element of manslaughter. But in holding Fino in a chokehold, Medearis had specific intent to inflict great bodily harm that led to Fino’s death, another element of manslaughter.

The prosecutors also argued that Medearis was guilty under the misdemeanor-manslaughter doctrine: Medearis was committing a simple battery when he caused Fino’s death.

Negligent homicide is defined as the killing of a human being by criminal negligence. Criminal negligence exists “there is such disregard of the interest of others that the offender’s conduct amounts to a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a reasonably careful man under like circumstances.”

“You held him long enough that you choked the life out of him,” Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court told Medearis in announcing the sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Christina Fisher and Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.