A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday evening (July 26) convicted Lamonte Loggins of standing over a helpless convenience store clerk during an armed robbery in Kenner and firing a 9mm bullet into his chest, killing him.
Loggins, 30, of Kenner, is guilty as charged of the first-degree murder of Abd El Ghader Sylla, 30. Sylla, whose wife was pregnant with their child, was working the overnight shift at the business at Williams Boulevard and West Esplanade Avenue when Loggins shot him.
Mortally wounded, Sylla still was able to call 911, saying he was “about to die.”
“I got shot. I got robbed, and I got shot,” he told the 911 operator before dropping the phone. He died from his injury soon after at a New Orleans hospital.
Loggins and his older brother, Eric Rodgers, planned the armed robbery and cased the business hours earlier. About 2 a.m., on Nov. 30, 2020, Rodgers entered the store, followed by Loggins. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they wore masks.
After pouring a cup of coffee and discussing liquor with Sylla, Loggins brandished a 9mm pistol and demanded cash. As he pulled out the pistol, a latex glove fell out of his pocket – Loggins’ DNA later was found on that glove.
Sylla dropped to his knees and held his hands over his head as he complied with Loggins’ demands. Sylla opened the register and removed the cash drawer so Loggins could get the money.
Without being provoked, Loggins then walked around the counter and began beating Sylla in the head with the pistol. Sylla fell onto his back as the beating continued. Loggins stood back and fired the bullet into Sylla’s chest, even as the victim pleadingly held his hands in the air in front of him.
Loggins and Rodgers fled to their car parked blocks away, as Sylla, still on his back on the floor behind the counter, called 911. He remained there until Kenner Police Department officers arrived.
During the ensuing investigation, Kenner Police Department detectives used numerous businesses’ and residences’ video surveillance cameras to track the suspects’ movement from the crime scene to the Lorie Drive apartment complex where both men lived.
But Loggins and Rodgers had gone to Biloxi, Miss., where they spent a night in a hotel and where Loggins threw the pistol into a business’s garbage receptacle. The following day, they caught bus to Memphis, Tenn., where they previously lived.
More than a week later, Rodgers called the Kenner Police Department. He told the lead case detective, Aaron Savoie, that Loggins killed Sylla. Federal marshals and local police arrested Loggins in Memphis on Dec. 8, 2020.
Rodgers, 32, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2022 to manslaughter, obstruction of justice and armed robbery for his role in the crime. He received a 40-year sentence.
On Tuesday, as part of a plea agreement, Rodgers testified that he and Loggins planned the robbery, and that he was a participant because his government unemployment assistance hadn’t been credited to his debit card. But Rodgers testified that he did not know Loggins was going to shoot the clerk.
Under cross-examination by Loggins’ public defender, Rodgers was accused of urging Loggins to shoot Sylla. Rodgers, who has distinctive tattoos on his forehead and hands, was a regular customer at the business and could be easily identified, Loggins’ attorney argued. The defense attorney also argued that the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the gunshot killed Sylla, suggesting that the medical treatment the victim received at the hospital could have caused his death.
The jury deliberated about an hour before returning with its verdicts. In addition to first-degree murder, jurors found Loggins guilty as charged of obstruction of justice, for tossing the murder weapon in a business’s garbage receptacle in Biloxi. Loggins also tossed the bullets from that pistol in a drainage canal in Kenner before he and Rodgers fled the state.
Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Loggins Aug. 9.
Assistant District Attorneys Carolyn Chkautovich and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.