Month: October 2023

Convicted of killing girlfriend with zip tie, Dennis Sheppard sentenced to life in prison

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Oct. 30) sentenced Dennis Sheppard to life in prison for killing his girlfriend by tightening a zip tie around her neck and suffocating her.

Sheppard, 60, of Harvey, killed Jyra Holmes on Nov. 2, 2020, during a domestic dispute outside her apartment in the 1500 block of Chelsea Road in Harvey. After pulling the zip tie tightly, Sheppard pushed Holmes to the ground in full view of witnesses.

“She wanted me dead; now she’s dead,” Sheppard said as he killed her. A U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force arrested Sheppard three days later in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 28 deliberated just over one-half hour in convicting Sheppard as charged of second-degree murder. Life in prison with no probation, parole or suspension of sentence is the mandatory punishment for the crime in Louisiana.

On Monday, Holmes’ twin sister provided victim-impact testimony, describing Sheppard’s behavior as “an evil act,” and saying, “I hope the only mercy you get for the rest of your life is the mercy you showed my sister.”

After denying defense motions for a new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal, Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court noted how Sheppard fled the state after killing Holmes.

“She had a full life ahead of her; she was very young,” Judge Darensburg said. “To take someone’s life, I would have to agree with the impact testimony: It was an evil act.”

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

Marital infidelity, a Kenner hookup and a kidnapping lead to prison for a North Carolina couple

A Jefferson Parish judge has sentenced Mishanda Reed to 11 years for prison for her involvement in the kidnapping of her extramarital lover in Kenner, a week after her husband Malcom Reed was sentenced to 13 years for the same crime.

Malcom Reed, 42, and Mishanda Reed, 45, both of Durham, N.C., were convicted of second-degree kidnapping and attempted second-degree kidnapping, respectively, by a Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 28.

Mishanda Reed and the victim, now age 47 and living in Houston, Texas, attended Xavier University in New Orleans together in 1995 and dated for about five years. They had had a sexual encounter in recent years, after she was married.

In 2021, they communicated, and she told the victim – falsely – that she was divorced. On June 27, 2021, after the victim traveled to the New Orleans area to meet her, he drove to an airbnb that she rented with her credit card in the 1300 block of Lloyd Price Avenue in Kenner.

Inside, the victim walked to an upper-level loft. There, the victim said, Malcom Reed suddenly appeared, carrying a silver semiautomatic pistol in his left hand and an aluminum bat in the other. He ordered the victim to get on his knees. When the victim refused, Malcom Reed beat him with the bat.

Malcom Reed ordered Mishanda Reed to retrieve zip-ties, which he had in a bag. She did, and she used them to bind the victim at the wrists and ankles.

Malcom Reed then got the password to the victim’s cell phone and scrolled through the text messages between the victim and Mishanda Reed. Malcom Reed interrogated the victim about his intentions with his wife. Malcom Reed also pointed the pistol at the victim and threatened to kill him. Malcom Reed also cut the victim’s face during the interrogation.

Several hours later, the Reeds left the airbnb in separate cars, taking the victim with them. The Reeds removed the zip-ties from the victim’s wrists and ankles and left him in the 300 block of Alliance Street. The Reeds then drove to North Carolina.

A bystander saw the victim bleeding in the street and called 911. The Kenner Police Department arrived soon after, and the victim was rushed to a hospital for injuries that included a broken leg.

Police officers who searched the airbnb found blood spattered on the stair railing, a mirror, bed sheets, a door and elsewhere. Detectives identified the Reeds and obtained arrest warrants. The Reeds surrendered on Aug. 1, 2021.

The couple additionally was charged with aggravated battery. But jurors convicted Malcom Reed of the lesser misdemeanor charge of simple battery and acquitted Mishanda Reed of that crime altogether. Malcom Reed was sentenced to six months in jail for that offense.

Although the Reeds were tried and convicted together, they were sentenced separately.

During Malcom Reed’s sentencing hearing on Oct. 13, he expressed remorse but minimized his involvement by telling the court that he learned only that day that his wife was having an affair. He said he hid outside the Airbnb for 1 ½ hours and then, armed with the bat, confronted the victim inside. He said he was defending himself when explaining why he struck the victim with the bat.

The victim, in victim-impact testimony on Oct. 13, described the entire incident as “a premediated ambush” that included Mishanda Reed’s participation. He said he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome because of the kidnapping and beating he received.

On Friday (Oct. 20), Mishanda Reed testified during her request for a new trial, presenting herself as a victim as well and saying she was not a willing participant in the kidnapping because she was frightened of her husband. From the witness stand and with her husband looking on, she admitted being an adulterous wife but asserted she loves both men. Mishanda Reed also complained that her trial lawyer, whom she has fired since she was convicted, steered her away from testifying.

In rejecting the new-trial request, Judge Shayna Beevers Morvant of the 24th Judicial District Court described Mishanda Reed’s testimony given Friday as “theatrical and full of hysteria.” Judge Beevers Morvant said Mishanda Reed had numerous opportunities to flee from her husband if she was, in fact, not a willing participant in the crime.

“I do not think she wants to face liability for the jury’s verdict,” the judge said in denying the new-trial motion.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Whitworth and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.

Convicted of sexually abusing juveniles, Elias Abrego Zambrano faces life in prison

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday evening (Oct. 19) found Elias Abrego Zambrano guilty of sexually abusing two children.

Zambrano, 54, was convicted as charged of first-degree rape of a juvenile under age 13, two counts of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13 and two counts of indecent behavior with juveniles under age 13.

The crimes occurred in Kenner beginning as early as 2012 and September 2017. The crimes were first reported to the Kenner Police Department in March 2020 when the victims were ages 13 and 19.

Zambrano was a friend of the victims’ family. He denied victimizing the children.

The jury deliberated for about two hours before returning with its unanimous verdicts. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Zambrano on Oct. 26. First-degree rape carries a mandatory life sentence in prison without probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Carolyn Chkautovich and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.

Albert Lewis guilty of home invasion in which resident shot him in the head

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday evening (Oct. 11) found Albert Lewis guilty of violently forcing his way into a Marrero home, leading a resident to shoot him in the head to defend herself and her family.

Albert Lewis, 43, of Marrero, is guilty as charged of home invasion in connection with the New Year’s Eve 2022 incident in the 1100 block of Martin Drive, jurors determined during less than 30 minutes of deliberations.

At about 1:15 p.m., on Dec. 31, Lewis was at a residence on Martin Drive when he exited behaving erratically. At a nearby residence, meanwhile, a 28-year-old woman stepped outside her front door with her 1-year-old son to take photographs before they traveled to Slidell to attend a party.

After several minutes of erratic behavior, Lewis walked up the street and stopped in front of the woman’s home. From the sidewalk, he spoke to the woman, who ignored him. Neither she nor her family knew Lewis.

Lewis then walked toward the victim and banged on the hood of a vehicle in her driveway. She turned to pick up her son. He grabbed her from behind. She broke away, picked up her son and went inside. He followed her to her front door.

One of her nephews inside heard the commotion. He opened the door to let her in, then closed and locked it. Once inside, the woman handed her toddler to her other nephew and retrieved her .380 semiautomatic pistol. She told Lewis to leave several times. So, too, did her nephews, one of whom armed himself with a kitchen knife.

Lewis continued to force his way inside and broke and forced the door open. Lewis stepped over the threshold. Two residents saw Lewis step inside.

The woman, fearing for her life, then shot Lewis. He stumbled backwards and collapsed just outside the doorway. She then called 911 and waited for the officers to arrive.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies, responding to a report of an aggravated battery by shooting, arrived to find Lewis unresponsive and lying face down. Deputies also observed the damaged security and front door.

In addition to the victim, her toddler and her two nephews, her disabled grandmother was in the home when Lewis forced his way inside.

The Sheriff’s Office determined that the woman’s action was reasonable and justified. Lewis was arrested after he was released from a hospital.

Lewis’ public defenders argued that his behavior, while inexcusable, did not meet the legal criteria needed to convict him of home invasion, namely that he had the intention to enter. They said Lewis was behaving like “a mad man” because he was probably under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, which left him unable to formulate the required intent to commit home invasion.

Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Lewis on Oct. 25.

Assistant District Attorneys Ashton Robinson and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.

After ‘Ramos’ retrial, Dartanya Spottsville sentenced to back-to-back life sentences for two West Bank murders

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Oct. 11) ordered Dartanya Spottsville to serve back-to-back life sentences in prison, plus another 50 years, for his role in a shooting inside a Harvey apartment that left two men dead and a third injured on Father’s Day 2015.

Spottsville, 35, of Marrero, was convicted as charged by a jury on Sept. 7 of two counts of second-degree murder, one count of attempted second-degree murder and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Click here to read about the trial.

Wednesday marked the second time Spottsville was sentenced for the crimes. He was convicted as charged of all counts by a jury in 2019. But the jury was not unanimous. As such, Spottsville received a new trial after the U.S. Supreme Court opined in its Ramos v. Louisiana decision that nonunanimous verdicts are unconstitutional.

Spottsville was one of three men who entered an apartment in the 1600 block of Apache Drive on June 21, 2015. Gunfire erupted, leaving Johnell Ovide and Trammell Marshall dead. They were ages 23 and 21, respectively. The surviving victim, who was 23 at the time, was shot three times, including once in his face.

Citing the seriousness of the homicides and the seriousness of the injuries the surviving victim sustained, 24th Judicial District Judge Stephen Grefer on Wednesday sentenced Spottsville to two consecutive life sentences, to be served consecutively to the 50-year sentence he gave for the attempted second-degree murder.

Judge Grefer also sentenced Spotsville to 10 years for the firearm charge. Spottsville was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a conviction of heroin possession in Jefferson Parish.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Clauss and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.

For shooting a man in the back in Kenner, Shyheem Love convicted of attempted murder, other crimes

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (Oct 3) convicted Shyheem Love of shooting a 61-year-old man in the back when he was criminally barred from possessing guns, and then from the parish jail tried to concoct a scheme to pay the victim $5,000 to recant.

Love, 28, of LaPlace, is guilty as charged of attempted second-degree murder, simple criminal damage of property and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, jurors decided. He additionally was convicted of attempted obstruction of justice.

The shooting happened Dec. 22, 2021, in the 1600 block of Newport Place in Kenner, just outside Love’s girlfriend’s apartment. She had just been released from the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna and needed a ride to Kenner. A 61-year-old family friend with whom she had had sexual encounters in the past gave her that ride in his work van. He had taken with him her three young children to get their mother from the jail.

Outside her apartment, the woman was retrieving her children from the man’s work van to bring them inside. That’s when the man noticed Love standing nearby.

Love asked to speak with the man. He then asked the man to exit his van. The man refused. Love then fired three or four bullets at the van. The man sped away to his home in the 3600 block of Loyola Drive in Kenner. Once home, he noticed his back was wet with his own blood. The Kenner Police Department was notified.

After the man was treated and released from a hospital, he identified Love as the shooter by selecting his image in a photographic lineup. The man was familiar with Love but knew him only by his first name.

Love was arrested. While awaiting trial in the parish jail in Gretna, Love made numerous phone calls to his father and to his girlfriend. Knowing that the phone calls are recorded, he nonetheless made efforts to buy the victim’s silence through a $5,000 payoff. Love attempted to conceal his scheme through referring to it as “playing Monopoly,” a reference to the board game.

Love was convicted of attempted second-degree murder for shooting the victim; simple criminal damage to property valued at between $1,000 and $50,000 for damaging the victim’s work van with the bullets; and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm (he was convicted in 2015 of second-degree battery in St. John the Baptist Parish). Love was charged with obstruction of justice for his scheme to get the victim to recant, but jurors returned with the verdict of attempted obstruction of justice.

The jury that was seated on Monday deliberated about 1 ½ hours before returning with its verdicts about 7 p.m., Tuesday. Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Love on Nov. 2.

Assistant District Attorneys Leo Aaron and Molly Love prosecuted the case.

Dennis Sheppard guilty of murdering girlfriend by using zip tie to strangle her

A Jefferson Parish jury has convicted Dennis Sheppard of murdering his girlfriend by using a plastic zip tie around her neck to strangle her.

Sheppard, 60, of Harvey, is guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of Jyra Holmes, the jury unanimously decided during 36 minutes of deliberation on Thursday (Sept. 28).

He killed Holmes, 39, on Nov. 2, 2020, during a domestic dispute outside her apartment the 1500 block of Chelsea Road in Harvey. He put the zip tie around her neck and pushed her to the ground, witnesses told detectives.

“She wanted me dead; now she’s dead,” Sheppard said after killing Holmes, according to two witnesses.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived to find her lifeless body in the driveway with a zip tie around her neck.

A U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force located and arrested Sheppard three days later in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

Through his public defender, Sheppard denied committing a second-degree murder. Rather, the defense attorney asserted that at best, Sheppard was guilty of manslaughter, a lesser homicide committed in the heat of passion that carries a maximum of 40 years in prison.

Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Sheppard on Oct. 30. Second-degree murder carries a mandatory punishment of life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

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