Month: November 2022

After fatally punching parish jail inmate, Press Shorter gets 70-year sentence

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Nov. 14) sentenced Press Shorter III to 70 years in prison in finding he is a two-time felon under Louisiana’s habitual offender law.

Shorter’s most recent was conviction was for manslaughter. Shorter, 30, of Harvey, caused the death of Brian Alexander while they were Jefferson Parish Correctional Center inmates.

On Sept. 4, 2018, both men were in line to shower when Shorter struck Alexander three to four times in his head. Alexander fell backwards, his head striking the floor.

Shorter has a history of committing batteries on others. He twice struck two fellow inmates, breaking each man’s jaw bones, and he has struck corrections officers and deputies. “He has a record of being extremely violent, even when he’s incarcerated,” Assistant District Attorney Joan Benge argued in court.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigators initially believed that Alexander had fallen, and the incident was treated as a medical roll. Doctors at University Medical Center, however, concluded that Alexander’s injuries were not consistent with a fall.

Alexander was kept on life support until his family could arrive at the hospital. Knowing that he would not survive, the family authorized his removal from life support. Alexander, 49, of Loranger, later died. He was in the correctional center awaiting trial for a first-degree robbery charge when Shorter attacked him.

During the subsequent investigation, Sheriff’s Office investigators determined that Shorter had complained in phone conversations about being unable to shower. On the day in question, Alexander was ahead of Shorter in the line to shower. And within 1 ½ hours of striking Alexander, Shorter was on the phone with his girlfriend, telling her he “knocked” Alexander “clean out.”

The autopsy showed that in addition to wounds to his face and head, Alexander’s skull was fractured, and his brain was swollen. Blunt force trauma caused his death, which was classified as a homicide.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Feb. 16 unanimously convicted Shorter as charged of manslaughter. After denying post-verdict defense motions to overturn the conviction, and after hearing impact testimony from Alexander’s ex-wife, 24th Judicial District Judge Danyelle Taylor on March 1 sentenced Shorter to 40 years in prison, the maximum for manslaughter.

She then ran that sentence consecutive to the 20 years she gave Shorter in January after he pleaded guilty to illegal firearms possession, resisting arrest by for or violence and narcotics offences – charges for which he was confined to the correctional center when he struck Alexander.

That meant Shorter was serving a 60-year sentence, at hard labor.

On Monday, Judge Taylor found that Shorter is a double offender, considering his conviction of a second-degree battery he committed in 2013. That and the manslaughter are crimes of violence. Judge Taylor vacated the 40-year sentence she gave Shorter for the manslaughter and resentenced him to 50 years as a double offender, bringing his total punishment to 70 years without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Benge prosecuted the case.


Westwego man convicted of possessing pornographic images of children

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (Nov. 9) convicted Jagon Eldridge of possession of child pornography.

Eldridge, 49, formerly of Westwego, is guilty as charged of eight counts of possessing pornographic images involving children under age 13.

Eldridge was arrested in May 2018, by Special agents with the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Crime Unit.

A special agent was involved in an undercover investigation of child pornography on the internet when in February 2017 he uncovered illegal images that were tracked to Eldridge. A search of his Avenue G home yielded images and videos of victims.

Through his attorney, Eldridge asserted a number of defenses, including that the state could not prove that the images belonged to him.

The jury deliberated about 45 minutes before returning with its unanimous verdicts. Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Eldridge on Thursday (Nov. 17).

Assistant District Attorney’s Piper Didier and Seth Shute prosecuted the case.

Kenner teen sentenced to life with parole eligibility for kidnapping elderly couple

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Nov. 9) sentenced Alexsy Mejia to life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years for his conviction of kidnapping an elderly couple from their Metairie home.

Mejia, 18, of Kenner, also was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his conviction of aggravated burglary, a crime that preceded his forcing the 91-year-old man and 81-year-old woman to drive him to their Kenner bank at gunpoint.

Mejia was 16 years old at the time of the crimes and was charged and prosecuted as an adult. He knew the victims because they paid him to occasionally do yard work for them.

On the afternoon of July 9, 2021, Mejia armed himself with a .38-caliber revolver, concealed his identity by wearing a mask and broke into the couple’s home through a bathroom window. He demanded the couple give him $100,000 so he could purchase a car.

Because the couple had no cash in the home, Mejia forced them at gunpoint to drive to their bank in Kenner in the 3500 block of Williams Boulevard. From the back seat, he pointed the pistol at the 91-year-old man’s head during the drive.

Once at the bank, the couple convinced Mejia that they both needed to go inside to obtain the money. Mejia told them he had an accomplice who would blow up their house if they called police. Once inside, the couple alerted the bank branch manager, who called police.

As the first Kenner police officers arrived, Mejia fled on foot. After a brief pursuit, Mejia was arrested blocks away, hiding in a garbage can behind a residence in the 3600 block of Martinique Avenue. Mejia later confessed to committing the crimes to Jefferson Parish detectives.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Oct. 26, deliberated about 40 minutes in unanimously convicting Mejia as charged of two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary.

In written impact testimony read aloud by a prosecutor during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, the couple wrote they trusted Mejia and paid him to do household jobs for them. They’ve since forgiven him and “hope that he can move on in a positive way” with his life, the couple wrote.

Life in prison is the mandatory punishment for aggravated kidnapping under Louisiana law. Because he was a juvenile at the time he committed the crimes, Mejia will be eligible to apply for parole in 25 years.

Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court ordered the sentences, including the 30-year sentence for aggravated burglary, to be served without parole, probation or suspension of sentence. He also ordered that the sentenced be run concurrently.

Additionally, Judge Brindisi issued a protective order that bars Mejia from contacting the couple for life.

Assistant District Attorneys Kristen Landrieu and Carolyn Chkautovich prosecuted the case.