River Ridge man who tried to carjack deputy pleads guilty

A River Ridge man who tried to carjack an undercover Jefferson Parish detective was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday (June 2), after he pleaded guilty to that crime and to possession with intent to distribute cocaine for the crack rocks that deputies found stashed between his buttocks.

Jonas Kelly, 33, also pleaded guilty to being a double offender under Louisiana’s habitual offender law, because of a 2006 burglary conviction. Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the guilty pleas, ran the sentences concurrently for a total of 15 years.

Kelly pleaded guilty to attempted carjacking and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The latter offense stems from the 11 rocks of crack cocaine deputies found hidden between his buttock cheeks after he was arrested for the carjacking attempt.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Detective Patrick Evans was dressed in plain clothing and in a black Ford Mustang parked near Wilker Neal and Newton streets in River Ridge, conducting patrol operations in the high-crime area, when Kelly approached him about 10 p.m., according to the arrest affidavit.

Kelly approached the passenger’s side and pulled on the door handle with his left hand while holding his right hand behind his back in implying that he had a weapon, according to the affidavit. Kelly told the detective to “open the door.”

Evans asked the suspect what he wanted, and Kelly responded by saying he wanted the car. Evans then pulled his pistol out, leading Kelly to back away. Kelly then walked into a crowd of people, and Evans called for assistance of other deputies, who arrested the suspect.

During the search on the scene, the deputies found the crack cocaine that later was weighed at 1.9 grams. The deputies also found $61 in cash in denominations consistent with narcotics sales.

Kelly was scheduled to stand trial on the two charges on Thursday. A panel of potential jurors was lined up outside Judge Grefer’s courtroom, waiting to being jury selection when deputies escorted the people away.

Kelly then pleaded guilty. He entered both pleas under North Carolina vs. Alford, named for a 1970 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Kelly refused to admit that he was in fact guilty but that he was pleading guilty because the prosecutors had sufficient evidence to prove the charges at trial.

In comments to the judge, Kelly denied trying to carjack the deputy. But he said the crack cocaine was his.

Prosecutors filed the double bill on the attempted carjacking charge, citing the 2006 burglary conviction for which he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

In that case, he burglarized a Newton Street apartment just three blocks from where he attempted to carjack the detective. He also pleaded guilty in that case to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and two counts of witness intimidation.

At the time of his arrest for the attempted carjacking, he was on probation for his 2012 conviction of possession of alprazolam. On March 21, he stipulated he violated his probation because of the latest case, and the original sentence of four years in prison was imposed. That sentence is run concurrently with the 15-year sentence he received on Thursday.

Assistant District Attorneys Matt Clauss and Thomas Sanderson prosecuted the case.

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