Tag: domestic violence

Jefferson Parish jury: Pedro Monterroso murdered girlfriend, left young sons with her body

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (March 24) deliberated just over 20 minutes in convicting Pedro Monterroso of beating his girlfriend to death in their Metairie apartment while five of his children lay in a bed just feet away.

Monterroso, 51, is guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of Heidy Monroy, 24. The crime occurred in the early morning hours of July 13, 2014, in the apartment they shared in the 4000 block of Durand Street.

According to evidence presented at trial, Monterroso argued with Monroy over whether she was involved with another man. The fight turned physical, and he fatally beat and stabbed her as she lay in a bathtub. She died from blunt-force injuries to her head, and her hands had injuries indicative of defensive wounds.

After killing her, he rounded up three of his five children that were in the apartment and fled to Texas. The youngest of the three was a son he had with Monroy, a child who was whisked away wearing only a diaper, according to testimony. Monterroso fathered the other two children with Monroy’s sister.

Monterroso left behind in the apartment his two sons whom he fathered with Monroy. The boys found their mother’s nude body in the tub and sought help from a neighbor. That person notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, according to trial evidence.

Monterroso “just left them there to fend for themselves,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish told jurors in closing argument.

Monterroso was arrested the following day in Katy, Texas, and later extradited to Jefferson Parish to face charges.

In the apartment, investigators found a length of rebar wrapped in duct tape. Monterroso’s DNA was recovered from one end of the bar. Monroy’s hair and blood was found on the other end, according to testimony.

Monterroso used numerous aliases, including Pedro Monterroso Navas, Pedro Alberto Monterroso Navas, Wilson Rigoberto Varela Mena, Marlin Jovani Varela Mena, Carlos Humberto Cisneros Avila and Alberto Cisneros.

During the three-day trial, jurors heard testimony showing that Monterroso was physically abusive to Monroy, her sister and his children. The abuse included him hanging them upside-down using chains while they lived in Central America.

Jurors also heard that he was romantically involved with Monroy’s sister, who bore four of his children while she was unaware that he was married to another woman. And while in this relationship, Monterroso began having a relationship with her younger sister Heidy Monroy, who was a juvenile when it started. He fathered children with her, too, according to testimony.

While acknowledging that their client killed Monroy, Monterroso’s attorneys urged the jury to not be swayed by sympathy for the children. The attorneys asked jurors find Monterroso guilty of negligent homicide, a crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence is the mandatory punishment for second-degree murder. Judge Donald “Chick” Foret of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Monterroso on May 4.

Assistant District Attorney Zach Popovich assisted ADA Rish in prosecuting Monterroso.

For killing his girlfriend, Christopher Davis sentenced to life in prison

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (March 14) sentenced Christopher Davis to spend the rest of his life in prison for his conviction of shooting his girlfriend in the back of her head as she walked away from an argument.

Davis, 40, who has a history of domestic violence, was convicted last week of the second-degree murder of Lashonda Davis, 34, who died just outside the doorway to his Faith Place apartment in Terrytown on Jan. 5, 2020.

Life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence is the mandatory punishment for second-degree murder.

“All of our family has been given a life sentence,” her father Kenneth Sands told the court in impact testimony. “It’s time for the defendant to get his.”

The daughter of two military parents, she was born aboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and lived throughout the United States, her father testified. She left behind three sons. Her 9-year-old sister wrote a letter to the court in lieu of live testimony. Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Truhe, who led the prosecution, read the letter aloud in court.

Sands had dated Davis about two years. Shortly before Davis murdered her, Sands received a text message from someone informing her of the death of a friend. Distraught over the news, she did not respond to Davis’ demands that she identify the person who died. An argument ensued, and he retrieved a .38-caliber revolver and fired it as she walked out of the apartment, according to trial testimony.

Members of her family traveled to the Jefferson Parish courthouse in Gretna from other states and as far as the Bahamas to attend last week’s trial. A jury deliberated about 40 minutes Thursday in unanimously finding Davis guilty as charged.

Earlier last week, Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court, who presided over the murder trial, sentenced Davis to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was legally barred from having guns because of a domestic violence conviction involving another woman.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.

Dalton Breaux III guilty in Marrero rape

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday evening (March 10) found Dalton Breaux III guilty of breaking into a woman’s Marrero home and raping her.

Breaux, 40, of Marrero, was convicted of third-degree rape and of attempted unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling for the June 25, 2019, crime. Breaux and the 27-year-old victim knew each other.

According to evidence presented at trial, Breaux walked to the woman’s home, entered the fenced-in yard and used tools to pry open a bathroom window that overlooked an alley.

The victim was roused from sleep by her dogs barking and saw Breaux standing in the bedroom holding a hammer. After raping her, he fled, leaving behind his boxer underwear.

In the grass outside the bathroom window, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigators found a lawn chair that Breaux used to climb inside, a pry bar and screwdriver, and a jug of water. Detectives obtained video surveillance from a nearby home showing Breaux walking down the street toward the victim’s home carrying a jug of water, according to trial testimony.

Breaux’s DNA was recovered from the victim’s body and from the boxers that he left at the crime scene, according to testimony. The victim also suffered from bruising she received during the attack.

Breaux testified that the encounter was consensual.

Jurors deliberated just over two hours before returning with the verdict. Breaux was charged with second-degree rape, but jurors returned with the lesser charge of third-degree rape.

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Breaux on April 13.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case.

Christopher Davis convicted of murdering his girlfriend in Terrytown

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (March 10) found Christopher Davis guilty of shooting his girlfriend in the back of her head as she walked away from an argument.

Davis, 30, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Lashonda Sands, 34.

A dating couple for about two years, Sands and Davis got into an argument just after midnight on Jan. 5, 2020, in his apartment in the 1900 block of Faith Place in Terrytown, according to trial testimony.

The argument began after she received a text message on her mobile device from someone who informed her of the death of a good friend. Word of the death led Sands to weep. Davis wanted to know who died, but she did not respond.

Her silence led Davis to argue with her, and that led to a physical altercation, according to evidence presented at trial.

Davis left the living room where the altercation occurred and retrieved his .38-caliber revolver. As he returned, a friend of the couple who was visiting at the time attempted to stop Davis, according to trial testimony.

Sands, meanwhile, walked out the apartment door. Davis shoved his friend to the side and extended his right hand under the friend’s arm and fired once, according to trial evidence.

The bullet struck her in the back of her head. Sands, the mother of three children, collapsed and died just outside the apartment entrance.

Davis’ young son was in the apartment, playing games when the shooting happened. Davis called 911 and lied to the operator, according to trial testimony.

He told he operator that he was inside the apartment when he heard a “pop” outside and found Sands bleeding from the head.

Deputies later found Davis’ revolver hidden in a bucket filled with his child’s toys. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office’s ballistics experts determined that the revolver was the murder weapon.

Davis’ attorneys argued that the revolver accidentally fired while the friend tried to stop him. The killing was not intentional, the attorneys argued.

Davis had a history of abusive and violent behavior toward Sands, according to trial testimony. In one incident, David threatened to retrieve a gun from a car so he could shoot her, a witness testified. In another incident, he fired three bullets into the ground during an argument, that witness testified. Never were police notified, the witness testified.

The jury deliberated about 40 minutes. Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Davis on Monday (March 14). Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

On Tuesday, Davis pleaded guilty as charged to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in connection with his having the .38-caliber revolver. Judge Miller sentenced him to 10 years in prison for that offense.

Davis was legally prohibited from having guns because of a 2017 conviction of domestic abuse battery. In that case, Davis beat a woman with whom he had had romantic relationship.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.


Metairie man convicted of domestic abuse by strangulation

A Jefferson Parish jury has found Jose Sagastume guilty of strangling his wife during an argument in their Metairie home.

Sagastume, 34, was convicted as charged of domestic abuse by strangulation for the Sept. 15, 2019, incident.

According to evidence presented at trial, Sagastume returned home from a night out drinking and accused his wife of being unfaithful. The ensuing argument escalated to violence, when Sagastume tackled her, put his hands around her neck and began strangling her, according to trial evidence.

As the argument unfolded, the wife telephoned her cousin and asked him to go to their home. Amid the attack, the cousin arrived and knocked on the door, which enabled her to escape and call 911.

The jury heard testimony about a prior incident involving a physical altercation over jealousy.

Sagastume denied strangling his wife, an assertion the jury rejected after deliberating for about two hours on Tuesday (Nov. 9).

Judge R. Christopher Cox of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Sagastume on Monday (Nov. 15).

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Stephen Downer prosecuted the case.

Ray Farria pleads guilty to shooting his wife through car windshield

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Nov. 18) sentenced Ray Farria to 80 years in prison, after he admitted in court to fatally shooting his wife in the neck in full view of the couple’s four young children.

Farria, 33, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the July 24, 2018 death of Dominique Farria, 30. He shot her as she sat in the New Orleans couple’s car at Lake Tahoe and Manhattan boulevards in Harvey, at an entrance to the Stonebridge subdivision.

Their children, ages 1, 7, 9 and 11 years old at the time, also were in the car and witnessed the shooting, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. None of the children was physically injured. Dominique Farria died later at a hospital.

Farria additionally pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, for discarding his pistol in a nearby wooded area, and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The couple was visiting family in the Stonebridge subdivision, where an argument ensued, leading Dominque Farriato to attempt to drive away, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Farria attempted to stop her, first by standing behind the car and then climbing onto the hood as she drove away. He fired one bullet into the windshield. She was struck in the neck.

Farria later asserted it was an accidental shooting and accused his wife of infidelity. He was charged with second-degree murder but, pursuant to a negotiated agreement, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In victim-impact testimony, Dominique’s mother said the family supported the plea agreement.

In accepting the plea, Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Farria to the maximum 40 years for manslaughter, 40 years for obstruction of justice and 20 years for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The sentences were run concurrently. Farria then pleaded guilty to being a habitual offender, leading to the 80-year sentence.

Click here for resources on domestic violence.

Family Violence Unit Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish prosecuted the case.

Terrance Leonard indicted with first-degree murder counts in Terrytown attack

Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul D. Connick Jr. announced today that a grand jury has returned an indictment against Terrance L. Leonard for four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

“After consulting with my staff and receiving input from the victims’ families, I have decided that my office will seek the death penalty,” Mr. Connick said.

Leonard, 33, is charged with the March 6 deaths of Kristina Riley, 32, her 14-year-old daughter, her 10-year-old son and her 9-year-old niece. He also is charged with attacking another of Ms. Riley’s daughters, a 12-year-old girl who survived.

Leonard additionally is charged with obstruction of justice.

In keeping with office policy, there will be no further comment on this open case.

Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish is leading the prosecution.

Chad McAvoy pleads guilty to killing his mother in Metairie

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (May 6) sentenced Chad McAvoy to 40 years in prison, after he pleaded guilty to killing his mother with a shotgun blast in their Metairie home. The state, during plea negotiations, agreed to a reduced charge of manslaughter but demanded the maximum 40-year sentence.

McAvoy, 22, admitted he killed his mother Connie McAvoy, 42, on March 1, 2018. Mrs. McAvoy was killed shortly after she returned to her home, where she got into a verbal disagreement with her husband and then with McAvoy in his bedroom.

“As she was leaving his room, he fired a single (shotgun shell) into her back, causing her to expire at the scene,” Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish said during the plea hearing in reciting the factual basis.

According to testimony presented during a pretrial hearing, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, after receiving a 911 call from McAvoy’s father, initially treated the incident as a suicide. Deputies found Mrs. McAvoy on the floor of a hallway, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to her upper back.

The detectives, thinking the matter was not a suicide, questioned McAvoy and his father, and McAvoy initially pointed blame to his father. McAvoy later confessed.

On Monday, Mrs. McAvoy’s sister, mother and older son provided impact testimony to the court, telling Judge Conn Regan they supported the plea agreement as being “best for the whole family,” and expressing their grief over their loss. McAvoy, who slumped over in his chair and wept as his family testified, later told the court he had “regret” for his decision to kill his mother and said he loved his grandmother and aunt.

Judge Regan, of the 24th Judicial District Court, then sentenced McAvoy to 40 years at hard labor and advised him to take advantage of self-help classes in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Molly Massey prosecuted the case.

Michael Dick sentenced to 80 years after admitting he killed stepfather

Accepting the state’s requirements in a negotiated plea agreement, a Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (April 24) sentenced Michael Anthony Dick to 80 years in prison under the state’s habitual offender law, after Dick pleaded guilty to killing his stepfather in Terrytown.

Dick, 33, admitted he shot Raymond Laurent, 60, while in the victim’s home in the 700 block of Whitney Avenue on Sept. 9, 2016.

Dick pleaded guilty to manslaughter as part of the plea agreement and received the maximum 40-year sentence for that offense as members of Mr. Laurent’s family looked on from the courtroom gallery. A prosecutor read to the court two statements written by Mr. Laurent’s sisters.

In 2016, Mr. Laurent’s wife – Dick’s mother – reported to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that she found her husband on the living room sofa with a gunshot wound to his head. Detective Jean Lincoln determined that Dick was responsible for the homicide.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force later located Dick in Picayune, Miss., where he was residing in a mobile home. Authorities found in the mobile home the .38-caliber revolver Dick used to shoot Mr. Laurent. Dick confessed to committing the homicide.

Dick also pleaded guilty Wednesday to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, in connection with the revolver he used to kill Mr. Laurent. He received the maximum 20-year sentence for that offense. Dick was prohibited from possessing firearms because of convictions of extortion and false representation of a controlled dangerous substance, both occurring in 2009, court records show.

In accepting the guilty pleas, Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court ran the sentences concurrently. She then resentenced Dick to 80 years in prison per his plea agreement, in finding that his manslaughter conviction was his fourth felony under the state’s habitual offender law.

UPDATE: For her role in Mr. Laurent’s death, Dick’s girlfriend, Amber Wilson, 34, of Gretna, pleaded guilty on Monday, June 10, to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. Judge Donnie Rowan sentenced her to eight years in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.

Law enforcement, court officials learn new law helping keep guns out of domestic abusers’ hands

Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Sunny Funk, chief of the Family Violence Unit, and Lt. Valerie Martinez-Jordan of the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office are engaged in a statewide effort to help train law enforcement officers and others on Louisiana’s new firearms divestiture law. (JPDA photos)

With a new Louisiana law designed to further protect domestic violence victims taking effect in coming weeks, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office is engaged in a statewide effort to educate law enforcement and court officials to ensure that certain offenders are not possessing firearms.

In addition to helping with the training seminars, the DA’s Office on Wednesday (Sept. 12) hosted a regional training session in its Media Room. It was the second of seven such regional events that are scheduled at sites across Louisiana before the law, Act 367, takes effect on Oct. 1.

Based on legislation authored by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans during the 2018 legislative session and signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards in May, Act 367 requires that local authorities coordinate in developing policies on how to remove firearms from people who are prohibited from possessing them because of civil and criminal protective orders and domestic violence convictions.

“There has to be a bit of statewide uniformity in this process,” Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Sunny Funk, chief of the Domestic Violence Unit, told about 50 attendees during Wednesday’s session in the JPDA Media Room in Gretna.

The law requires, for instance, that the sheriffs’ offices, clerks of court and district attorneys shall develop forms, policies and procedures by Jan. 1, 2019, detailing how the process is conducted.

Lt. Valerie Martinez-Jordan of the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, who has taken on a leadership role in Louisiana in ensuring that her colleagues among the state’s 64 parishes are implementing the protective measures for victims of domestic violence, told Wednesday’s attendees that they’ll return to their jurisdictions and adapt their processes to the new law.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter process for every parish,” Lt. Martinez-Jordan told the attendees.

Among other mandates, the law requires that licensed firearms dealers notify local sheriff’s offices if a person prohibited from possessing firearms attempts to purchase them. The law also imposes criminal penalties on dealers who provide firearms to prohibited people knowing that they are barred from having guns.

Judges also are to order the transfer of firearms to local sheriffs’ offices from defendants when they are convicted of certain offenses, such as domestic abuse battery and battery of a dating partner. Such defendants are required to turn over to the sheriff’s office all their firearms within 48 hours of the conviction or within 48 hours of their release from incarceration.

The firearms can be transferred to a third party or transferred to the sheriff’s offices, which in turn can place them in storage and charge the defendants “a reasonable fee” to cover the cost of storage.

Starting with the first session in Thibodaux on Friday (Sept. 7), ADA Funk, Lt. Martinez-Jordan and East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court Judge Pamela Baker, in connection with the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, are traveling across the state, meeting with local officials to help them implement Act 367’s mandates.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials from Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Washington parishes converged on the DA’s Office Media Room for the daylong session.

Sessions are scheduled for sites in Scott, Baton Rouge, Pineville, Bossier City and Ruston. An eighth session is under consideration in New Orleans.