Month: February 2024

Arnold Magee guilty of murdering his estranged girlfriend in Metairie

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Feb. 22) found Arnold Magee guilty of fatally shooting his estranged girlfriend outside his Metairie apartment.

Magee, 37, is guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of Kawana Tibbit, 27, whom he killed in the 4100 block of Hessmer Avenue on the morning of July 2, 2020, following the end of their 5-year relationship.

Tibbit, who previously lived at the apartment, returned there just after 7 a.m., to retrieve belongings. An argument ensued, during which Tibbit received a phone call from new boyfriend. He could hear commotion in the background. Magee grabbed the phone and told him, “You’re not going to f— with her anymore.”

In a state of panic, the boyfriend told Magee he was on his way over. After the call was disconnected, she fled, and her boyfriend ran to the apartment on foot. By the time he arrived, she was dead.

Magee had armed himself with his Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle and went to the apartment building’s parking lot after she fled. He fired two .223-caliber rounds at Tibbit’s car.

The second round struck Tibbit in the upper right arm and traveled into her chest, causing massive tissue damage to her right lung. The trajectory was consistent with Magee shooting Tibbit while her hands were on her car’s steering wheel.

Struggling to breath and bleeding to death, Tibbit drove on but crashed her car into a vehicle parked outside an apartment building across Hessmer Avenue. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies who responded to the 911 calls found her slumped over in the driver’s seat. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Magee was among the 911 callers. In his 7:26 a.m., call, Magee told the operator that Tibbit tried to run him over in her car, and so he fired his rifle in self-defense. He returned his rifle to a closet in his apartment and waited for deputies to arrive.

Detectives recovered surveillance video footage and an audio recording of the shooting that refute Magee’s self-defense assertions.

Video shows that after Tibbet ran out of Magee’s apartment carrying her shoes, he casually walked out carrying the military-style rifle while speaking on his cell phone. He then stood outside the apartment building, holding the rifle.

Shortly after, Magee and Tibbit appeared to be conversing outside the apartment building. She stood beside her car, while he remained at the entrance to an entry gate to his building, holding the rifle. She got into her car and accelerated away. Magee fired the first bullet. It struck a parked van.

Tibbit then put her car into reverse and veered toward Magee before crashing into the building. After Tibbit’s car came to a stop, Magee fired a second time, striking her. She screamed and accelerated away again, eventually crashing into a parked vehicle across Hessmer.

Magee, meanwhile, casually walked through his apartment building, peering out to where Tibbit’s car crashed across the street. He hid the rifle under his clothing, walked across Hessmer and looked into Tibbit’s car.

He walked back to his apartment and, with the rifle still hidden under his clothing, he called 911. He remained at the scene and voluntarily spoke with detectives.

A deputy recovered the rifle from Magee’s apartment. Its safety selector switch was still in the fire position, and there was a round in the chamber, meaning it was ready to be fired. A full, 30-round magazine was inserted in the rifle.

In addition to maintaining Magee’s self-defense assertions, his attorneys argued that he suffered from alcohol addiction withdrawals and, explaining the rifle, also was fearful of Tibbit’s new boyfriend. The attorneys also suggested that jurors consider returning with a verdict of manslaughter, a lesser degree of homicide committed in the heat of passion that carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

The jury that was seated on Monday deliberated about 1 ½ hours on Thursday before returning with its verdict.

Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Magee on March 8.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Taylor Somerville prosecuted the case.

Raymond Lee convicted of killing barbershop owner in WB motel

A Jefferson Parish jury on Friday night (Feb. 2) found Raymond “Ray” Lee guilty of killing an entrepreneurial barber shop owner in a West Bank motel room during an armed robbery gone bad.

Lee, 38, of New Orleans, was convicted of the second-degree murder of Alonzo “Zo” Wiley. The 35-year-old owner of The Grooming Gallery in the Gretna area was shot five times at about 4:30 a.m., on Dec. 5, 2021.

Wiley first opened a barber shop on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans but moved it to the West Bank of Jefferson Parish. He hoped to open other Grooming Gallery outlets and was building his brand when he was killed, Assistant District Attorney Leo Aaron told jurors. “He wanted to be somebody,” Aaron said in closing argument Friday. “And you can tell just by looking at him. He dressed well. He took pride in his appearance. He was somebody.”

At the time he died, in the months following Hurricane Ida, Wiley was staying at a motel in the 2200 block of the Westbank Expressway. Lee and his girlfriend were staying there, too.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 call from the motel and found Wiley’s body on the floor of his room. Detectives examined Wiley’s cell phone and found that his last text message exchange was with someone named “Ray.”

That exchange indicated that he and Ray had communicated previously. Lee lied to Wiley, putting him at ease so Wiley would freely allow him into his motel room. Once inside, Lee began the armed robbery.

Evidence shows there was a struggle between the men. Wiley tried to get away from Lee but was trapped, an expert in crime scene reconstruction testified.

Lee shot Wiley three times. After Wiley fell to the floor, Lee covered his head with a pillow and shot Wiley twice more in the face.

Detectives found no subscriber information for the person with whom Wiley communicated in those last text messages. But the detectives found extensive text messages between Wiley and Lee’s girlfriend, who they learned drove a black Jeep Cherokee.

Four minutes after the 911 call was placed, Wiley’s newly purchased BMW was driven from the motel behind a black Jeep Cherokee, detectives discovered by reviewing the motel’s surveillance video recordings.

Twenty-three days after Wiley’s death, on Dec. 28, 2021, detectives tracked the Jeep Cherokee to another West Bank motel. Lee was in the vehicle, and his girlfriend was in their room at the motel.

In that room detectives found a bag of 9mm ammunition manufactured by two different companies, identical to two brands of spent bullet casings found at the Wiley murder scene. Detectives also found a necklace and sunglasses like those worn by Wiley.

Also recovered from the motel room was Lee’s iPhone, which had the text message exchange with Wiley.

They also discovered a video in Lee’s iPhone of a 9mm pistol whose serial number was discernable. Through the serial number, detectives linked the firearm to Wiley’s niece, who purchased it and allowed Wiley to carry. The pistol was reported stolen after Wiley was killed. Lee was trying to offload it, according to evidence recovered from his phone.

Further, the detectives were able to plot Lee’s whereabouts on the morning of Wiley’s murder through his cell phone and cell phone towers. Lee was in the immediate area of Wiley’s murder, refuting his alibi that he was at New Orleans’ lakefront at the time of the crime. Detectives used the cellular technology to show that minutes after Wiley was killed, Lee directly drove to his mother’s home in eastern New Orleans.

Lee’s girlfriend’s phone revealed identical travel data. She was not involved in the armed robbery and murder and was not charged. On the morning of Wiley’s murder, she used her mobile device to search for information about the crime on the internet, and she later read about it on a local news website, the Sheriff’s Office Digital Forensic Unit found.

Following his arrest, Lee ultimately admitted to texting and meeting with Wiley, but he denied killing the man. He further denied being at the scene, an assertion contradicted by the cell phone tower evidence. His attorney assailed the circumstantial case and accused the Sheriff’s Office of fabricating evidence.

Lee also was convicted of obstruction of justice, for intentionally removing the 9mm pistol he used to kill Wiley to hinder the investigation. He additionally was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was barred from possessing firearms because of a 2019 conviction of second-degree battery in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

Jurors that were seated on Tuesday deliberated just over three hours before finding Lee guilty as charged Friday.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Lee on March 7.

Assistant District Attorneys Leo Aaron and Tommy Block prosecuted the case.

Cade Fuxan guilty of murdering his roommate in Kenner

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday night (Feb. 1) convicted Cade Fuxan of killing his roommate, rejecting his assertion that he was defending himself when he shot James Parker five times in the apartment they shared in Kenner.

Fuxan, 26, is guilty as charged of second-degree murder, jurors unanimously decided after five hours of deliberation.

Parker, 22, died June 1, 2022 on the hallway floor inside in their apartment in the 4500 block of Williams Boulevard. Fuxan called 911, telling the operator he was defending himself.

The shooting was the culmination of months of hard feelings over a roommate’s intrusion into personal space, physical fights and hurt pride. Two days before the shooting, Parker bested Fuxan in a fight, leaving him with a black eye. Fuxan didn’t let it go.

“He had damaged pride. He had his feelings hurt. He was beaten up, and he couldn’t get over it.” – Assistant District Attorney Piper Didier

Fuxan fired five bullets at Parker. His wounds included one to the back of his head that severed his brain stem, an injury that dropped him to the floor unable to move. That bullet’s trajectory shows that Fuxan fired the pistol while standing over Parker, who was bent over toward the floor in a posture that belies claims of self-defense.

“That back-of-the-head shot is an execution shot,” Assistant District Attorney Piper Didier told jurors in opening statements Tuesday.

Fuxan and Parker shared the two-bedroom apartment with Fuxan’s girlfriend – who was Parker’s sister – and Parker’s brother. Parker’s siblings were at their jobs when he was killed.

Tensions in the apartment had been simmering for months. Parker owed Fuxan money for bills, so in October 2021, Fuxan removed Parker’s keyboard, computer and skateboard from his bedroom and wrote a note to Parker saying that it would get “ugly” if he tried to retrieve his property.

Two days before the shooting, Parker wrote a note to Fuxan, telling him to stay out of his bedroom. Fuxan went into Parker’s bedroom, found the note and wrote on it “F— around and find out.” He left it for Parker to find.

Upon reading it, Parker closed his door and was heard speaking dismissively about Fuxan. Fuxan went to Parker’s bedroom door, knocked on it and yelled. This led to a physical fight that left Fuxan with a black eye and superficial scratches.

That night, Parker sent a text message to Fuxan, apologizing and offering to move out. Parker wrote that he would continue to pay rent as long as his siblings could remain in the apartment.

The following day, Parker apologized to Fuxan in person. Parker’s brother sent a text message to Fuxan, saying he wanted everyone to get along. Fuxan responded, “just my pride hurt.” Later that night, Fuxan unpacked the Ruger 9mm semiautomatic pistol that he purchased a week earlier and said he was going to test fire it at Lake Pontchartrain.

In the hours before the shooting, Fuxan used his cellphone to photograph the injuries that Parker inflicted upon him. His text messages with family members showed both his anger over losing the fight and his unwillingness to let it happen again.

“He is not over that fight,” Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rushton told jurors in closing argument Thursday. “He’s sitting here documenting his injuries. June 1st. 12:36 (p.m.).”

Parker returned to the apartment from his job at about 5 p.m. and went to his bedroom. Fuxan placed his pistol in his pocket and went to Parker’s bedroom, supposedly in search of a pet cat. It was an act that he knew could reignite a fight. “And this time he was going to win,” Rushton told jurors. “And if he started losing again, he’s got his gun. It’s his backup plan. It’s the Plan B.”

At 9:14 p.m., Fuxan called 911 and told the operator he had just shot someone who was “running at” him.

Kenner Police Department officers found Parker’s body on the hallway floor and his bedroom in disarray, with a television knocked over and clumps of his braided hair littering the floor. A trail of bullet casings was strewn from the living room through the hallway. Bullet holes were found in the door frame, a door and walls.

Fuxan initially told police at the apartment that Parker attacked him with a hammer, so he shot and killed Parker. The hammer was on the hallway floor just outside Parker’s bedroom (The hammer belonged to Fuxan, who kept it in his bedroom).

He willingly went to Kenner police headquarters to speak with a detective and without having a lawyer. Once there, he abandoned the hammer-as-a-weapon assertion. He said he had been using the hammer to practice finding wall studs behind the drywall because he planned to work in the air conditioning business.

Fuxan then told the detective that he went into Parker’s room to find their cat because it needed medicine. As he stooped down to look for it under a bed, Parker attacked him, Fuxan told the detective.

Fuxan also told the detective that he was standing stationary in the apartment’s living room when he fired the pistol. However, his description is inconsistent with the evidence, such as where four of the five bullet cases landed in the hallway after they were ejected from his pistol and where bullets struck the hallway walls after passing through Parker’s body, an expert in crime scene reconstruction told jurors.

Kenner police booked Fuxan with manslaughter. A Jefferson Parish grand jury indicted him with second-degree murder.

Fuxan testified Thursday, accusing Parker of physically attacking him twice and maintaining he was defending himself. He asserted that he was only joking when he wrote “F— around and find out” on Parker’s note. He was so fearful for his safety in the apartment that he carried the pistol in his pocket on the night he and Parker were alone in the apartment, he said. His attorney told jurors that Fuxan had no duty to retreat in his home, alluding to the state’s stand-your-ground law. Fuxan also was “firing wildly” at Parker, the attorney told jurors.

Prosecutors argued that Fuxan was the aggressor who by law could not then claim self-defense. He was seething over having lost the fight, and then knowing that he and Parker would be alone, he armed himself and went to Parker’s bedroom.

“He had damaged pride,” Didier told jurors. “He had his feelings hurt. He was beaten up, and he couldn’t get over it.”

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Fuxan on Feb. 26.

Assistant District Attorneys Piper Didier and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.