Marrero man whose DNA on cigarette butts tied him to crimes convicted of armed robberies

A Marrero man who was tied to several business heists after his DNA was found on cigarette butts recovered at two seemingly unrelated crimes scenes five years ago was convicted on Wednesday (June 29) of committing the armed robberies.

Jonathan Isaac, 54, was convicted as charged of five counts of armed robbery in connection with the three heists in March 2011. The five counts reflect the five employees who were working at the three businesses during the robberies.

Isaac’s cohort, Damion Savage, 42, of Harvey, was convicted of six counts of armed robbery and sentenced to 60 years in prison in February. Both men rushed into the businesses armed with pistols and their faces hidden, leaving their victims unable to identify them.

Isaac faces up to 104 years in prison on each count, which includes a 5-year enhancement for each offense because a gun was used in the robberies. Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court, who presided over Savage’s case as well, is scheduled to sentence Isaac on July 18.

The duo robbed a Subway on Barataria Boulevard in Marrero on March 6, 2011, and then a Subway on Jefferson Highway in Old Jefferson on March 23, 2011. Two employees were working at each Subway during the robberies.

Isaac and Savage also robbed the GameStop store on Promenade Boulevard in Marrero on March 24, 2011. Only one employee was present at the GameStop when it was robbed.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives investigating what they initially believed were unrelated robberies at the Subways found freshly smoked, discarded Newport brand cigarettes outside the two businesses, according to testimony. The detectives sent the butts to the Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory, where DNA analysts found Isaac’s genetic material.

In searching Isaac’s home in the 900 block of Silver Lilly Lane, the detectives found that he smoked the Newport brand, according to testimony. Isaac also was linked to the GameStop robbery through a fingerprint authorities found on a game box that was shelved behind the counter. In the business’s video surveillance system, Isaac is seen touching that box during the robbery.

Further, they investigated his cell phone’s call history and learned he frequently communicated with Savage, including around the time of the robberies. The detectives arrested Savage, finding in his home clothing similar to that worn by one of the robbers, according to testimony.

Savage also confessed and implicated Isaac in the crimes. Prosecutors called for Savage’s testimony this week. As he did during his trial earlier this year, Savage said he falsely confessed to the crimes and so could not say whether Isaac was involved.

The detectives also used cell phone transmission towers to determine that both men were in the vicinity of the robberies when they occurred.

Isaac, who did not testify, denied robbing the businesses. His attorney argued that the cigarette butts and fingerprint could have been left at the crime scenes at any point in time and so did not indicate that Isaac was involved in the robberies.

The six women and six men in the jury deliberated about an hour before unanimously finding Isaac guilty of all five counts.

Assistant District Attorneys Angel Varnado and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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