Marrero teen halts trial, pleads guilty to carjacking and gets 16-year sentence

A Marrero teenager whose DNA connected him to a carjacking outside a busy West Bank business abruptly ended his trial Thursday morning and pleaded guilty as charged.

After hearing his victim and deputies testify against him, Rockeen Jacks, 19, admitted on the second day of his trial his guilt of armed robbery using a firearm. He admitted he committed the Dec. 22, 2015 crime outside a convenience store in the 6200 block of the Westbank Expressway, at Ames Boulevard in Marrero.

In accepting the plea, Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Jacks to 16 years in prison: 10 years for the robbery, five years as a sentence enhancement because a gun was used in the crime and one year for an unrelated battery on a corrections officer for an incident in the parish jail in June.

The 64-year-old victim testified he purchased a plate of food in the store and was returning to his 2002 Nissan Altima in the parking lot about 4 p.m. That’s when Jacks, his head covered by the hoodie he wore as he lurked in the parking lot, approached the victim with a black semiautomatic pistol beside his leg.

Jacks repeatedly demanded the keys. The victim initially resisted, even as they stood “eye to eye, face to face,” the victim testified Wednesday.

An “old man” who witnessed the altercation told the victim to give the robber the keys, the victim testified. “Man, don’t let him shoot you out here for nothing,” the man told him before driving away, never to be identified. The victim surrendered the keys.

During his testimony, the victim was asked to describe the robber. “What did he look like? He’s sitting right there,” the victim replied, pointing to Jacks sitting nearby at the defense table.

Jacks drove away east on the Westbank Expressway. The victim called 911, initiating an investigation by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Two days later, on Christmas Eve 2015, the victim and his brother separately spotted the stolen car with two men inside, being driven north on Silver Lilly Lane in Marrero. The victim called 911 and followed the car, relating his whereabouts to the dispatcher until he lost it. He spotted it parked in the 900 block of DiMarco Drive – the same block where Jacks lived. Its occupants were gone. He called 911 again, reporting he found the car.

The Sheriff’s Office Regional DNA Laboratory later found Jacks’ DNA on a plastic water bottle in the car. His DNA profile was in a federal law enforcement database because of a previous conviction of battery on a welfare worker. When shown a photographic line-up that included Jacks’ photo, the victim positively identified him as the person who carjacked him.

Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson and Blair Constant prosecuted the case.

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