A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday (May 14) found Bobby Johnson guilty of robbing and kidnapping a woman who advocates for feral felines.
Johnson, 45, of Metairie, was convicted of first-degree robbery and simple kidnapping but was acquitted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. At the time he committed these crimes, Johnson was on parole for committing an armed robbery in 1996.
About 12:20 a.m., on Nov. 18, 2016, the victim, now 64, parked her sports-utility vehicle behind businesses on Airline Drive near David Drive and was leaning over the back seat to fill bowls with cat food when Johnson approached and demanded cash, she testified. “He put a gun to the side of my face,” she testified. “He kept saying ‘Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me.’”
She had no cash so she offered him her ATM card in hopes he’d leave. Instead, he bound her hands with a black cloth belt, forced her into her SUV and drove her to a nearby bank. Unsuccessful at withdrawing cash there, he drove her to a second bank. Striking out there, he drove her to the Walmart in Kenner in attempt to get cash back on a small purchase. It was there that she escaped, ran into the store and screamed for help, causing Johnson to flee. The pistol was never recovered.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Robbery Detective Marc Macaluso obtained surveillance images of Johnson committing the crimes and distributed them to law enforcement agencies in hopes of identifying him. Johnson’s parole officer, Patrick O’Brien, recognized and identified him, according to trial testimony.
The victim later identified Johnson in a photographic lineup. JPSO forensic DNA analyst Dr. Marcela Zozaya testified that a combination of Johnson’s and the victim’s genetic material was found on the cloth belt used to bind the victims hands.
At trial Tuesday, Johnson testified that he was a drug dealer on the street that morning to make a narcotics transaction. He testified that the victim pulled up in her SUV asking if she could purchase crack cocaine. He provided a sample, which made her intoxicated and left her unable to drive, he testified. So he drove her to attempt to get cash to pay for more crack, he asserted.
Both the victim and her husband of 24 years testified that she has never used illegal narcotics.
The jury deliberated about 1 ½ hours. Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court set sentencing for May 23.
UPDATE: Judge Schlegel on May 23 sentenced Johnson to 40 years in prison for first-degree robbery and five years for the simple kidnapping. He ran the sentences concurrently, for a total of 40 years in prison. Johnson is due back in Judge Schlegel’s court on July 8 for a multiple bill hearing.
Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case.