On parole for ’94 homicide, Shawn Carter convicted of robbing Gretna store using a hammer

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday (July 26) found Shawn Carter guilty of robbing a Gretna convenience store while using a hammer.

Carter, 50, of Avondale, is guilty as charged of the armed robbery of the business. At the time he committed this crime, Carter was on parole for killing a man by beating him to death with a hammer.

About 12:30 a.m., on Feb. 11, 2021, Carter walked into the convenience store in the 900 block of Lafayette Street. He immediately approached the 42-year-old clerk who was seated behind the counter.

Wielding the hammer, Carter demanded the clerk hand over his phone and to refrain from activating a panic alarm. He ordered the clerk to open the cash register and threatened to kill the clerk if he didn’t comply.

In opening the register, the clerk dropped the cash drawer. Carter ordered the clerk to pick up the money. The clerk refused, and so Carter grabbed him by the throat and pushed him to the floor.

Carter pocketed the money, and the clerk fled to a stock room and locked the door. Through a window in the door, the clerk observed Carter taking three bottles of liquor and fleeing on Lafayette Street toward the Mississippi River.

In addition to the cash and liquor, Carter stole the clerk’s iPhone. An hour later, Gretna Police Department detectives tracked the stolen phone to a yard in the 600 block of 6th Street, about six blocks away from the crime scene. Carter’s fingerprint later was found on the phone, leading detectives to identify Carter as their suspect.

As he fled into the residential neighborhood after committing the armed robbery, Carter discarded his Atlanta Falcons cap and shirt in the 400 block of 9th Street. Gretna police recovered that evidence using a canine, Max, which tracked Carter’s scent from the crime scene. While canvassing the area for more evidence, officers found the claw hammer in a storm drain in that same block.

The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force located and arrested Carter at his Avondale home on March 3, 2021.

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab DNA analyst, meanwhile, found Carter’s genetic material on the cap, shirt and hammer.

On June 1, 1994, Carter used a hammer to beat Christian Smith to death. Smith, 20, was found in his home in the 2100 block of Hancock Street in Gretna. The hammer was still embedded in his skull.

Carter fled with the Smith’s car and his property, including a mobile phone. Indicted for first-degree murder, he pleaded guilty in 1996 to manslaughter and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He was paroled in 2014.

The jury, which heard evidence about the 1994 homicide, deliberated less than 50 minutes in finding Carter guilty as charged of the armed robbery. Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Carter on Aug. 21.

Assistant District Attorneys Laura Schneidau and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.