A Jefferson Parish judge on Friday (Oct. 21) sentenced Jonathon Brown to 70 years in prison, finding that he is career criminal under Louisiana’s habitual offender law.
Brown, 31, of New Orleans, was most recently convicted of shooting a Marrero bar and grill owner four times in the back, leaving him paralyzed, following a fight that occurred outside of the business in the 6500 block of Lapalco Boulevard.
A Jefferson Parish jury on Aug. 25 found Brown guilty as charged of attempted second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
That shooting happened on the morning of Sept. 3, 2019, just three months after Brown was released from a state prison for an unrelated conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A relative of Brown’s initiated the incident by twice groping the bar owner’s wife inside the business. The second groping incident occurred in front of the business owner, as his wife told him what had happened about the first groping incident. That led the owner to order Brown’s relative to leave the business.
The relative defiantly told the owner that he did grope the woman and then spit on the owner. That led to a physical altercation outside the business. After the fight ended, one of the business’s security guards tried to get the owner to return inside.
As the owner walked away, Brown emerged from the parking area and fired four bullets into the owner’s back. The victim collapsed and told his wife he was unable to feel his legs.
The security guard, who was armed, returned fire at Brown. Much of the incident was recorded on the business’s security system. While the image quality was poor, it clearly shows the altercation and Brown lurking in the parking lot leading up the shooting and fleeing immediately after.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office was able to identify Brown in part because he appeared in photographs of the evening’s crowd that were posted on the business’s Facebook page. Detectives arrested Brown at his New Orleans residence on Oct. 11, 2019.
Brown was legally prohibited from possessing firearms because of a 2013 conviction of possession of cocaine in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. The obstruction charge stems from Brown’s eliminating evidence by discarding the 9mm pistol semiautomatic pistol he used to shoot the victim.
Brown’s attorney argued that he was not the shooter. The jury deliberated about three hours on Aug. 25 before returning with its unanimous verdicts.
The security guard who returned fire at Brown also was legally prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a simple robbery conviction in Jefferson Parish in 2006. He pleaded guilty in January. In exchange for his testimony against Brown as the shooter, he received a suspended 5-year prison sentence with probation and the requirement that he does not possess a firearm as required by statute.
On Sept. 23, Judge R. Christopher Cox III of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Brown to 50 years for the attempted murder, 20 years for the firearm possession charge and 40 years for the obstruction charge – all the maximum amounts.
Following the sentencing, the District Attorney’s Office filed a multiple bill, alleging that Brown was a triple offender. The bill was filed on the attempted murder of the bar owner, meaning Brown faced a sentence of 25 years to 100 years.
Judge Cox on Friday vacated the 50-year sentence for the attempted second-degree murder and resentenced him to 70 years on that count. Brown’s three prior felony convictions included a possession of cocaine and two unrelated charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, crimes that occurred in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.
Assistant District Attorneys Laura Schneidau and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.