Author: Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office

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.

Jefferson Parish jury: Pedro Monterroso murdered girlfriend, left young sons with her body

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (March 24) deliberated just over 20 minutes in convicting Pedro Monterroso of beating his girlfriend to death in their Metairie apartment while five of his children lay in a bed just feet away.

Monterroso, 51, is guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of Heidy Monroy, 24. The crime occurred in the early morning hours of July 13, 2014, in the apartment they shared in the 4000 block of Durand Street.

According to evidence presented at trial, Monterroso argued with Monroy over whether she was involved with another man. The fight turned physical, and he fatally beat and stabbed her as she lay in a bathtub. She died from blunt-force injuries to her head, and her hands had injuries indicative of defensive wounds.

After killing her, he rounded up three of his five children that were in the apartment and fled to Texas. The youngest of the three was a son he had with Monroy, a child who was whisked away wearing only a diaper, according to testimony. Monterroso fathered the other two children with Monroy’s sister.

Monterroso left behind in the apartment his two sons whom he fathered with Monroy. The boys found their mother’s nude body in the tub and sought help from a neighbor. That person notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, according to trial evidence.

Monterroso “just left them there to fend for themselves,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told jurors in closing argument.

Monterroso was arrested the following day in Katy, Texas, and later extradited to Jefferson Parish to face charges.

In the apartment, investigators found a length of rebar wrapped in duct tape. Monterroso’s DNA was recovered from one end of the bar. Monroy’s hair and blood was found on the other end, according to testimony.

Monterroso used numerous aliases, including Pedro Monterroso Navas, Pedro Alberto Monterroso Navas, Wilson Rigoberto Varela Mena, Marlin Jovani Varela Mena, Carlos Humberto Cisneros Avila and Alberto Cisneros.

During the three-day trial, jurors heard testimony showing that Monterroso was physically abusive to Monroy, her sister and his children. The abuse included him hanging them upside-down using chains while they lived in Central America.

Jurors also heard that he was romantically involved with Monroy’s sister, who bore four of his children while she was unaware that he was married to another woman. And while in this relationship, Monterroso began having a relationship with her younger sister Heidy Monroy, who was a juvenile when it started. He fathered children with her, too, according to testimony.

While acknowledging that their client killed Monroy, Monterroso’s attorneys urged the jury to not be swayed by sympathy for the children. The attorneys asked jurors find Monterroso guilty of negligent homicide, a crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence is the mandatory punishment for second-degree murder. Judge Donald “Chick” Foret of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Monterroso on May 4.

Assistant District Attorney Zach Popovich assisted ADA Rish in prosecuting Monterroso.

Long Nguyen convicted in marijuana conspiracy, distribution case

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday (March 15) deliberated about 20 minutes in finding Long Nguyen guilty of conspiring to have large amounts of marijuana shipped from California for local distribution.

Nguyen, 45, was convicted as charged of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana (greater than 2.5 lbs.), money laundering ($20,000 – $99,000) and providing a false name to a law enforcement officer.

During the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigation that began in 2019, the narcotics agents seized more than 50 pounds of marijuana, all of which was displayed for the jury as evidence during the two-day trial.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know what you’re doing with all that marijuana if you’re not trying to distribute it,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Morales, standing over the mound of marijuana bags on the floor in front of the jury box, told jurors in closing argument Tuesday.

The agents opened the investigation after receiving information showing Nguyen’s wife was involved in illegal marijuana transactions. The investigation led the Jefferson Parish agents to Nguyen’s rented homes in the Gretna area, in the Gentilly area, Algiers, and Belle Chasse, according to trial testimony.

Nguyen conspired with others, some known and others unknown, to have marijuana shipped from Garden Grove, Calif., to Jefferson Parish through commercial carriers. The marijuana was contained in vacuum-sealed bags, which were contained in gold or green foil bags. Those, in turn, were packed in cardboard boxes that were lined with thin pieces of plywood, according to evidence presented to jurors.

The agents seized marijuana from several apartments, a storage unit and a UPS distribution center on the West Bank. One box, containing about seven pounds of marijuana, was mistakenly delivered to a Terrytown apartment, according to testimony. The shocked residents there called 911. They, too, were investigated and were cleared of criminal involvement, agents testified.

The agents recovered more than $8,000 in cash. They also found receipts for money orders and cashier’s checks totaling $46,000, all obtained in small monetary increments during a two-month period in 2019. Agents testified that such transactions are structured this way to not attract attention. The money was sent to a California bank, and Nguyen had a debit card from that same bank, according to trial evidence.

Under Louisiana law, money laundering is the possession of money that is the proceeds of a felony. When agents initially arrested Nguyen in January 2021, he provided a false name, leading to his conviction of that offense.

Nguyen, who required a Vietnamese-speaking interpreter, did not testify. Through his attorneys, he blamed his wife, Bich Nguyen, for being the marijuana dealer and asserted he had nothing to do with the criminal activities. However, agents obtained recordings of phone calls between the couple while he was jailed awaiting trial. In those calls, he directed his wife in matters of marijuana distribution, proving that he was involved in the conspiracy.

Bich Nguyen, 51, has twice pleaded guilty in connection with the marijuana distribution. In October 2020, she pleaded guilty as charged to conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana and money laundering ($20,000 – $99,000). She was given three years of probation.

However, her probation was revoked, and she was sentenced to the three years at hard labor after she was arrested again for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

The second arrest was in February 2021, when agents investigating her and her husband recovered marijuana in the Gretna-area apartment and in a storage unit. She pleaded guilty in May 2021 to conspiracy to distribute marijuana (greater than 2.5 lbs.) and possession with intent to distribute marijuana (greater than 2.5 lbs.). She received another 3-year prison sentence.

Two other men have pleaded guilty in connection with the investigation:

  • Man Danh, 54, of Gretna, pleaded guilty in October 2020 to conspiracy to possess marijuana (less than 2.5 lbs.), money laundering ($20,000 – $99,000), and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He received a 5-year sentence.
  • Nghia Hoaung, 41, of Belle Chasse, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to possession with intent to distribute marijuana (less than 2.5 lbs.). A 5-year prison sentence was suspended, and he was sentenced to three years of active probation.

Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Long Nguyen on April 11.

Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle Hosli lead the prosecution of Long Nguyen with assistance of Michael Morales. Assistant District Attorney Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted Bich Nguyen and Nghia Hoaung. Assistant District Attorney Rachel Africk prosecuted Man Danh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For killing his girlfriend, Christopher Davis sentenced to life in prison

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (March 14) sentenced Christopher Davis to spend the rest of his life in prison for his conviction of shooting his girlfriend in the back of her head as she walked away from an argument.

Davis, 40, who has a history of domestic violence, was convicted last week of the second-degree murder of Lashonda Davis, 34, who died just outside the doorway to his Faith Place apartment in Terrytown on Jan. 5, 2020.

Life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence is the mandatory punishment for second-degree murder.

“All of our family has been given a life sentence,” her father Kenneth Sands told the court in impact testimony. “It’s time for the defendant to get his.”

The daughter of two military parents, she was born aboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and lived throughout the United States, her father testified. She left behind three sons. Her 9-year-old sister wrote a letter to the court in lieu of live testimony. Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Truhe, who led the prosecution, read the letter aloud in court.

Sands had dated Davis about two years. Shortly before Davis murdered her, Sands received a text message from someone informing her of the death of a friend. Distraught over the news, she did not respond to Davis’ demands that she identify the person who died. An argument ensued, and he retrieved a .38-caliber revolver and fired it as she walked out of the apartment, according to trial testimony.

Members of her family traveled to the Jefferson Parish courthouse in Gretna from other states and as far as the Bahamas to attend last week’s trial. A jury deliberated about 40 minutes Thursday in unanimously finding Davis guilty as charged.

Earlier last week, Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court, who presided over the murder trial, sentenced Davis to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was legally barred from having guns because of a domestic violence conviction involving another woman.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.

Dalton Breaux III guilty in Marrero rape

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday evening (March 10) found Dalton Breaux III guilty of breaking into a woman’s Marrero home and raping her.

Breaux, 40, of Marrero, was convicted of third-degree rape and of attempted unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling for the June 25, 2019, crime. Breaux and the 27-year-old victim knew each other.

According to evidence presented at trial, Breaux walked to the woman’s home, entered the fenced-in yard and used tools to pry open a bathroom window that overlooked an alley.

The victim was roused from sleep by her dogs barking and saw Breaux standing in the bedroom holding a hammer. After raping her, he fled, leaving behind his boxer underwear.

In the grass outside the bathroom window, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigators found a lawn chair that Breaux used to climb inside, a pry bar and screwdriver, and a jug of water. Detectives obtained video surveillance from a nearby home showing Breaux walking down the street toward the victim’s home carrying a jug of water, according to trial testimony.

Breaux’s DNA was recovered from the victim’s body and from the boxers that he left at the crime scene, according to testimony. The victim also suffered from bruising she received during the attack.

Breaux testified that the encounter was consensual.

Jurors deliberated just over two hours before returning with the verdict. Breaux was charged with second-degree rape, but jurors returned with the lesser charge of third-degree rape.

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Breaux on April 13.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case.

Christopher Davis convicted of murdering his girlfriend in Terrytown

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (March 10) found Christopher Davis guilty of shooting his girlfriend in the back of her head as she walked away from an argument.

Davis, 30, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Lashonda Sands, 34.

A dating couple for about two years, Sands and Davis got into an argument just after midnight on Jan. 5, 2020, in his apartment in the 1900 block of Faith Place in Terrytown, according to trial testimony.

The argument began after she received a text message on her mobile device from someone who informed her of the death of a good friend. Word of the death led Sands to weep. Davis wanted to know who died, but she did not respond.

Her silence led Davis to argue with her, and that led to a physical altercation, according to evidence presented at trial.

Davis left the living room where the altercation occurred and retrieved his .38-caliber revolver. As he returned, a friend of the couple who was visiting at the time attempted to stop Davis, according to trial testimony.

Sands, meanwhile, walked out the apartment door. Davis shoved his friend to the side and extended his right hand under the friend’s arm and fired once, according to trial evidence.

The bullet struck her in the back of her head. Sands, the mother of three children, collapsed and died just outside the apartment entrance.

Davis’ young son was in the apartment, playing games when the shooting happened. Davis called 911 and lied to the operator, according to trial testimony.

He told he operator that he was inside the apartment when he heard a “pop” outside and found Sands bleeding from the head.

Deputies later found Davis’ revolver hidden in a bucket filled with his child’s toys. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office’s ballistics experts determined that the revolver was the murder weapon.

Davis’ attorneys argued that the revolver accidentally fired while the friend tried to stop him. The killing was not intentional, the attorneys argued.

Davis had a history of abusive and violent behavior toward Sands, according to trial testimony. In one incident, David threatened to retrieve a gun from a car so he could shoot her, a witness testified. In another incident, he fired three bullets into the ground during an argument, that witness testified. Never were police notified, the witness testified.

The jury deliberated about 40 minutes. Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Davis on Monday (March 14). Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

On Tuesday, Davis pleaded guilty as charged to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in connection with his having the .38-caliber revolver. Judge Miller sentenced him to 10 years in prison for that offense.

Davis was legally prohibited from having guns because of a 2017 conviction of domestic abuse battery. In that case, Davis beat a woman with whom he had had romantic relationship.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.

 

Jacob Robinson guilty of Harvey armed robberies, aggravated battery

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday (Feb. 16) found Jacob Robinson of Harvey guilty of robbing a family at gunpoint in their home and shooting a victim in the head during a struggle for the pistol. He was arrested after the victims turned on him and knocked him to the ground with a brick.

Robinson, 35, was convicted as charged of two counts of armed robbery and one count of aggravated battery.

The incident happened on March 29, 2020, in an apartment in the 1000 block of Orange Blossom Lane in Harvey. According to trial testimony, a man, his girlfriend, their two children and his cousin lived at the apartment.

His face covered with a mask and carrying a pistol, Robinson entered the apartment without knocking and demanded they give up money and cell phones. The girlfriend and one of her children were upstairs at the time, according to testimony.

One of the men gave up money and his phone. Then Robinson pointed the pistol at the other man, who was the children’s father. He pulled $10 from his pocket and threw it on the floor and handed over his cell phone, he testified.

Robinson then began backing up and holding his pistol up, leading the father to fear he was about to be shot, he testified. He then lunged at Robinson, and during the scuffle, the pistol discharged. The bullet grazed the father’s head and lodged in the ceiling.

The cousin then struck Robinson with the brick. The family called 911, and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on the scene to find Robinson still present.

Robinson told deputies that he was the victim, and that he knew the residents who robbed and beat him. During this week’s trial, he further asserted that he went to the apartment because he was the residents’ illegal narcotics supplier and went to the apartment for a transaction.

The jury rejected the defense assertions and returned with its unanimous verdicts against Robinson, who has a history of convictions that include theft and battery.

Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Robinson on March 17.

Assistant District Attorneys Christina Fisher and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.