Harvey man sentenced to 49 1/2 years in armed robbery and shooting

A Harvey man was sentenced to 49 ½ years in prison Tuesday (Feb. 23), after pleading guilty as charged to armed robbery and illegal discharge of a firearm.

Dernard Harris, 25, admitted he was the gunman who, at about 8:30 a.m., on July 3, 2014, robbed a construction worker in full view of his coworkers at a job site at Manhattan Boulevard and Elton Court.

The victim and a co-worker then followed Harris, who in turn charged at his pursuers and fired a round at them from a .380-caliber pistol. Harris then ran into a vacant apartment complex in the 1500 block of West Chelsea Road, where he tossed the pistol into a closet before leaping off a second-floor balcony.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies chased Harris to an apartment complex on Old Compton Road, where he forced his way into a unit. He ran through the apartment and then into the back door of a clothing cleaning business on Manhattan Boulevard, where deputies caught him as he was fleeing out of the front door.

Deputies recovered the pistol from the closet, and ballistics experts confirmed it matched the discarded bullet casing recovered at the shooting scene, prosecutors said.

Jury selection was set to begin Tuesday when Harris pleaded guilty to the charges. Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Harris to 49 ½ years in prison for the armed robbery and two years for the illegal discharge of a firearm offense. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Harris then pleaded guilty to being a second offender under Louisiana’s habitual offender law, in light of a 2011 conviction of accessory after the fact to armed robbery. Enright sentenced Harris to 49 ½ years in prison as a double offender.

Assistant District Attorneys Angad Ghai and Sloan Abernathy prosecuted the case.

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