Month: June 2022

Rondell Lasalle sentenced to 35 years for Harvey manslaughter conviction

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (June 30) sentenced Rondell Lasalle to 35 years in prison for his conviction of shooting a man in the back during a fight in a Harvey apartment.

Lasalle, 30, of Marrero, was convicted by a jury on April 6 of manslaughter in the death of James Cole, 27. Lasalle also was found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

On the night of March 8, 2020, Lasalle and Cole were in an apartment in the 1100 block of Orange Blossom Lane when an argument escalated to a physical altercation. During the fight, Lasalle shot Cole in the back. Cole died the following day.

Shortly after he was shot, Cole told a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy that Lasalle was the shooter. Other people who were in the apartment did not see the fight but heard the ruckus and two gunshots. One witness also saw Lasalle leave the apartment immediately after the gunshots.

Soon after, the Gretna Police Department detained Lasalle after seeing him walking along a drainage canal bank that marks the city’s municipal boundary with Harvey and is two blocks from Orange Blossom Lane.

Lasalle carried a backpack, in which there was a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. A fired casing was jammed in the slide, making the pistol inoperable, according to testimony.

Lasalle asserted self-defense, and his attorneys argued the shooting was accidental. Lasalle testified that during an afternoon of playing video games, he teased Cole about the mother of his children. The friction led to an argument that escalated to a fist fight and culminated with Cole brandishing a pistol, Lasalle testified.

He told jurors that he twisted Cole’s arm behind his back in trying to disarm him, and that’s when the pistol fired. Fearing retribution from Cole’s friends, Lasalle said he picked up the pistol and fled instead of calling 911 and trying to help the dying man.

Both men’s DNA was recovered from the pistol. Lasalle’s DNA was recovered in far greater amounts, suggesting that the pistol was his, according to testimony.

Prosecutors put on rebuttal witnesses to refute Lasalle’s self-defense assertion. Evidence showed that Cole was shot in the back at a distance, meaning the pistol was not mere inches from his back when the trigger was pulled, as Lasalle described in testimony. Also, the trajectory that the bullet followed through Cole’s body further refuted Lasalle’s version of the shooting, according to testimony.

By law, Lasalle was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his criminal history. Jurors heard of a simple burglary conviction and that he was previously convicted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

For killing Cole, Lasalle stood trial on a charge of second-degree murder. The jury deliberated just over two hours in finding Lasalle guilty of manslaughter, a lesser homicide offense that carries a punishment of up to 40 years in prison.

On Thursday, Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Lasalle to 35 years for manslaughter and 20 years for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Judge Mentz ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

Lawrence Sly convicted of murdering his neighbor in Woodmere



A Jefferson Parish jury Friday evening (June 17) found Lawrence Sly guilty as charged of second-degree murder for killing his neighbor, a crime that was the culmination of years of disputes between the two men.

Sly, now 70, shot Webber, 57, six times outside their homes in the 3800 block of Chinkapin Street, in the Woodmere subdivision. Webber was unarmed.

Just before the Nov. 11, 2019 encounter, Sly was leaving his home and noticed Webber was home. Sly then retrieved his Smith & Wesson 9mm semiautomatic pistol. As he departed, Webber emerged from his home and, according to Sly, threatened him.

Sly shot Webber in a knee, a shoulder and the other knee as the men stood on Sly’s property, at the sidewalk between their driveways. Sly then shot Webber in his back. As Webber stumbled across the street, Sly reloaded his pistol with another magazine.

Finally, after Webber collapsed on the sidewalk across Chinkapin Drive unable to walk further, Sly stood over the victim and shot him twice more in the head. Webber died there in a pool of his blood.

Sly remained on scene for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. He asserted self-defense, saying Webber was threatening him and reaching at his pants waistband as though he was armed. Sly alleged he shot Webber after Webber began walking menacing toward him and continued shooting him.

Sly also told detectives that he “shot him in his head because I wasn’t, I wasn’t letting him come back on me.”

The Sheriff’s Office booked Sly with manslaughter. A Jefferson Parish grand jury later returned with a charge of second-degree murder.

Evidence shows the neighbors’ disputes can be traced to Oct. 3, 2015, when Sly called the Sheriff’s Office to report that Webber was outside his home holding a shotgun. Deputies took no action because Webber committed no crimes.

On Oct. 30, 2015, the Sheriff’s Office again was summoned to Chinkapin Street because Webber was cutting his grass while holding the shotgun. He committed no crimes.

Two years later, Sly again called the Sheriff’s Office to report that Webber pointed the shotgun at him. For that, Webber was charged with felony aggravated assault. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor aggravated assault and received one year of probation after Sly sought to drop charges. Webber remained on probation until April 2019

In May 2018, Sly and Webber engaged in a physical altercation that led to injuries requiring medical treatment.

The jury that was seated on Tuesday deliberated about 3 ½ hours Friday before returning its unanimous verdict. Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Sly on July 11.

Assistant District Attorneys Joshua Vanderhooft and Lindsay Truhe prosecuted the case.

Abraham Aguilar convicted of sexual battery of a juvenile

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (June 15) found Abraham Aguilar guilty as charged of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13.

Aguilar, 40, of Marrero, committed the crime between Jan. 1, 2020 and Aug. 18, 2020, when the victim was 11 years old. In addition to the felony offense, Aguilar was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery involving the same victim.

Aguilar was tried on both charges simultaneously. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court weighed evidence presented on the misdemeanor offense, and the jury weighed evidence presented for the felony offense.

The jury, which was seated on Monday, deliberated about 2 ½ hours in reaching its unanimous verdict. Judge Kovach is scheduled to sentence Aguilar on June 30.

Assistant District Attorneys Christina Fisher and John Ransone prosecuted the cases.