Tag: family violence unit

Adam Littleton guilty of murder in I-10 death of Jasilas Wright

Adam Littleton, a Mississippi native, was found criminally responsible on Friday (July 28) for the death of a woman who attempted to escape his vehicle after being kidnapped by jumping from his car on Interstate 10 in Metairie.

Littleton, 25, was convicted as charged of second-degree murder in the June 10, 2015, death of Jasilas Wright, 19. According to testimony at trial, Wright met Littleton in connection with her job as a dancer at Bourbon Street nightclubs.

Littleton was prosecuted under the felony-murder doctrine. Shortly before Wright died, she and Littleton got into an altercation in the French Quarter. Littleton roughed up her to get her into his car, and they drove toward Metairie on I-10. As Wright died during the commission of a second-degree kidnapping, Littleton was found to be legally responsible for her death.

The month before her death, Wright went with Littleton and another woman to Texas for prostitution, a decision she regretted after he initially abandoned her there without money, she told family and friends in New Orleans in emotional phone calls, jurors heard this week in testimony.

Wright sought to distance herself from Littleton and the lifestyle, said Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish, who prosecuted Littleton with Megan Gorman. “Jasilas was on the highway of human trafficking,” Rish told jurors. “She was looking for her exit.”

Shortly before her death, Littleton and Wright argued on Bourbon Street before he forced her into his car to drive her to Texas. Unwilling to go, Wright leapt from Littleton’s car in the I-10 westbound lanes where the interstate crosses over Veterans Memorial Boulevard. Several vehicles struck her and ran over her body numerous times. Many motorists called 911. But Littleton, who witnessed Wright being struck by cars, continued to Texas.

“What does Adam do? Nothing, because he knows he’s to blame,” Rish told jurors. “He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t call police.”

Wright suffered “massive trauma,” her death caused by “multiple blunt-force trauma,” forensic pathologist Dr. Marianne Eserman testified of her autopsy results.

After collecting personal items from the I-10 lanes and shoulders, the Louisiana State Police identified Wright as the victim, according to testimony. The items included Wright’s cell phone, a key piece of evidence, according to State Police.

Littleton spoke with Wright’s family on the phone, telling them that Wright jumped out of his car. He hung up, and they could never contact him again.

With warrants for his arrest issued in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, Littleton surrendered to police in Shreveport. In addition to the State Police, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the New Orleans Police Department were involved in the investigation.

Littleton faces spending the rest of his life in prison, at hard labor and with no chance of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Littleton on Aug. 22.


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Kenner man pleads guilty to brutalizing girlfriend, gets 17-year sentence

A Kenner man was sentenced to 17 years in prison on Friday (March 17), for forcing his way into an apartment and brutally beating his pregnant girlfriend, and on a separate occasion, for stabbing her in the back.

Durrell Joseph, 21, pleaded guilty as charged to home invasion and aggravated battery, both involving his 20-year-old girlfriend because she wanted to end their abusive relationship. He was scheduled to stand trial on the charges next week.

The home invasion happened on June 13, 2015, when Joseph went to an apartment in the 1000 block of 31st Street. After forcing his way inside by breaking the door off the hinges, he dragged the woman by her hair out of the closet she was hiding in and beat her, causing numerous facial injuries and leading her to lose consciousness.

She told the Kenner Police Department that Joseph beat her because she wanted to end their relationship. As the officers interviewed her, she further disclosed that on Dec. 18, 2014, she told Joseph she wanted to leave the relationship because he was unfaithful.

During the ensuing argument, as she walked away from him, Joseph stabbed her in the back. Joseph apologized, and he then fabricated a story for police, asserting that she was attacked by a group of women.

The victim told police that she went along with Joseph’s story, because she feared he would harm her if she told the truth.

In court Friday, the victim provided impact testimony, struggling through tears as she tried to tell the court how the crimes affected her. “I forgive him,” she testified, adding that she did not want to see the father of her child spend the rest of his life in prison. “I’m a forgiving person.”

Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted the plea, sentenced Joseph to 17 years for the home invasion and 10 years for the aggravated battery. The sentences were run concurrently.

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

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New Orleans man sentenced to life in prison for killing JPSO Sgt. Tracey Marshall

Three days after he was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury, an eastern New Orleans man was sentenced Tuesday (Feb. 21) to spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tracey Marshall.

James Darby, 49, will serve the life sentence at hard labor with no benefit of probation, parole or suspended sentence. He executed Sgt. Marshall as she was returning to her Terrytown condominium on Dec. 13, 2015, after a date with another man. She was 47.

Sgt. Marshall ended the couple’s tumultuous 12-year romantic relationship on the month before she died. At the time, she was assigned to the JPSO bailiff squad at the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna. She was employed by the Sheriff’s Office for about 10 years.

In the weeks before he killed her, Darby stalked her and harassed her with text messages, according to trial evidence. On the night she died, he followed her as she was on a date that included dinner at a St. Charles Avenue restaurant. He followed her to her home, where he fired eight .45-caliber bullets at her as she sat in the driver’s seat of her truck, striking her five times. Her body was found the following morning.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Saturday deliberated less than 40 minutes in finding Darby guilty as charged of second-degree murder. He was returned to Judge Nancy Miller’s courtroom on Monday morning for his sentencing hearing, during which he said nothing to Sgt. Marshall’s parents and friends who were in the audience.

“I want to hate this person. I want to, but I don’t.” – Barbara George White, Sgt. Marshall’s mother

Before sentencing Darby, Judge Miller denied defense requests for a new trial and a post-verdict judgment of acquittal.

Sgt. Marshall’s mother, Barbara George White, provided impact testimony, tearfully recounting the grief she feels. “I want to thank everybody who tried to help her, and every day I can see her,” Mrs. White testified. “She was a good and decent and loving person.”

She said she thinks of her daughter often. “It’s been very difficult,” she testified. “I can hardly sleep. I go to work, and it helps me a little. But when I’m by myself, I see her. I love her. She was a very good and decent person. She didn’t deserve this. She wasn’t playing anybody. She was trying to get away from it. I couldn’t help her, because she didn’t tell me. I failed her in that.”

In handing down the sentence, Judge Miller told Darby that he robbed Mrs. White of her love for her daughter. And to the grieving mother, the judge said, “Ms. White, you did not fail your daughter. You raised her to be the person she was. And she was loved by everybody.”

Mrs. White, in her impact testimony, recalled the last family gathering two months before her daughter was murdered. Her family misses her, she said. “I won’t remember her for this. I will remember her for the person she was. I won’t let this be a label, because she was a really good person. I loved her, and her family loved her.”

Throughout her testimony, she spoke of Darby only in the third person. “I want to hate this person. I want to, but I don’t,” she testified, breaking into sobs.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Megan Gorman prosecuted the case.

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New Orleans man guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend, JPSO Sgt. Tracey Marshall

An eastern New Orleans man was convicted on Saturday (Feb. 18), of killing his ex-girlfriend Tracey Marshall, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office sergeant whom he stalked before he executed her as she returned to her Terrytown home after a date with another man.

In a five-day trial that highlighted the hidden horrors of domestic violence, James Darby, 49, is guilty as charged of second-degree murder for shooting Sgt. Marshall, 47, while she was off duty. Angered by their break-up and that she was seeing another man, Darby stalked her during the last hours of her life, following her around Uptown New Orleans to her West Bank home in a borrowed car.

In the parking lot outside her condominium in the 2300 block of Ashley Drive, Darby crept up on her before she could get out of her private vehicle as she spoke on her cell phone, leaving her unable to retrieve her pistol. She yelled out “Boy!” before her phone call went dead, as Darby opened fire using a Glock .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, according evidence presented by Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Megan Gorman.

“This was personal,” Gorman said in closing argument. “This was an execution. The offender stood right by her window, which was rolled up, fired eight shots standing right next to that vehicle, and hit her five times, in the torso and in the head. This was personal, and this was an execution.”

Rish told jurors that Sgt. Marshall took an oath as a law enforcement officer, understanding that she could lose her life in the line of duty. “The saddest thing about Tracey’s betrayal is that it happened at the hands of the man that she loved,” Rish said.

“The saddest thing about Tracey’s betrayal is that it happened at the hands of the man that she loved.”

At the time of her death, Sgt. Marshall was assigned to the 24th Judicial District Court bailiff squad at the Jefferson Parish courthouse in Gretna. She had been employed by the Sheriff’s Office about 10 years, including assignment at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

The nine women and three men on the Jefferson Parish jury, which seated Tuesday, deliberated less than 40 minutes. Darby faces a mandatory life sentence in prison. Judge Nancy Miller of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Darby on Feb. 21.

Sgt. Marshall and Darby had been involved in a 12-year but tumultuous romantic relationship that she ended in November 2015, when she moved out of his eastern New Orleans home and into the condominium she owned in Terrytown.

People who knew them told Sheriff’s Office Detectives Gabe Faucetta and Donald Zanotelli that after the break-up, Darby inquired about Sgt. Marshall’s activities, including whether she was with another man. Evidence shows he stalked her and harassed her with text messages during the month before he killed her.

A friend recalled for detectives how she and Sgt. Marshall were on an outing when Sgt. Marshall spotted Darby following them in his car. Sgt. Marshall confided her fear not only that she might lose her job over the harassment, but that Darby might harm her. “He will not let me alone,” Sgt. Marshall told the friend. “He just will not let me go.”

The evidence shows that Darby frequently sent harassing text messages to Sgt. Marshall in the weeks before he killed her, indicating his unrelenting obsession for her. “I just want to tell you I love you and miss the hell out of you,” he told her in a text message on the day before he killed her.

Evidence also shows she had obtained numerous restraining orders against Darby, who in 2011 pleaded guilty to cyberstalking her.

Darby killed her about 9:40 p.m., as she returned to her home from a dinner date. A resident who lived in the adjacent neighborhood called 911 about that time, reporting hearing gunfire. Deputies who responded searched the area but found nothing. Sgt. Marshall’s cell phone went dead at that same time, according to trial evidence.

Another nearby resident later told detectives he heard gunfire and looked out to see a dark color mid-size four-door vehicle being driven at a high rate of speed away from the scene. Detectives later learned that Darby was driving a borrowed mid-size, four-door Nissan.

On the morning following the shooting, a mutual friend of the former couple, who lived in the same complex as Sgt. Marshall, called 911 after seeing the driver’s side window of her 2010 Ford Expedition shattered and hair hanging out that window.

Deputies found Sgt. Marshall slumped against the driver’s door. She was shot in the head, face, arm and back. Deputies also found eight spent .45-caliber bullet casings on the ground outside her vehicle.

Her personal belongings, including her purse, cell phone and pistol, were in her vehicle and undisturbed, indicating that robbery was not a motive in her death.

Darby immediately fled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., after killing her, showing up unannounced at a friend’s home, where he spent the night, and then went to a woman’s home asking to take a bath. He was located in Tuscaloosa two days after the homicide by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Recovery Task Force.

During the interrogation by Faucetta and Zanotelli in Alabama, Darby denied killing Sgt. Marshall. He admitted to stalking her frequently, including on the night of her death.

He asserted he was driving on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans when he “happened upon” her in her SUV. He said he followed her back to the West Bank and parked near her condominium. He admitted he was near her apartment in the borrowed car when she arrived. He also admitted he got out of his car, but he maintained he did not shoot her.

“I stood there, and I wouldn’t go any further,” Darby told the detectives during the videotaped interrogation shown to jurors. This would have happened about the same time Sgt. Marshall was killed, evidence shows. Yet Darby maintained he neither killed her nor saw who did it.

Detectives obtained cellular phone evidence that proved that Darby was stalking Sgt. Marshall. Authorities in Alabama obtained the data from Darby’s cell phone, showing that he used a Google Maps app to search for her Terrytown residence, and for the St. Charles Avenue restaurant in New Orleans where she and her date had dinner hours before she was killed, Faucetta testified.

Other cell phone data showed Darby was at numerous locations around where Sgt. Marshall was with her date in New Orleans in the hours before she was killed, Faucetta testified. Further, Darby’s cell phone data showed he was near Sgt. Marshall’s neighborhood around the time of the homicide.

His text messaging history included his asking his son for “a heater” so he could go hunting, suggesting he was seeking a gun. Deputies have not recovered the pistol that Darby used to kill Sgt. Marshall.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Megan Gorman prosecuted the case.

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Marrero man who ran over ex-girlfriend’s mother with SUV sentenced to life in prison

A Marrero man was sentenced Thursday (Dec. 1) to life in prison as a habitual offender, for a criminal history capped by his recent conviction of running over his ex-girlfriend’s 61-year-old mother with his large sports-utility vehicle on a Harvey sidewalk last year.

Earl Harris, 43, was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury on Aug. 26 of aggravated second-degree battery. That case stems from the Sept. 15, 2015 incident in the 1100 block of Clydesbank Drive, in the Scotsdale neighborhood.

The victim, who is the grandmother of several of Harris’ children, testified during the trial that she had walked to a cousin’s home on Clydesbank Drive to borrow diapers for one of her grandchildren. She was returning to her nearby home from that errand about 11 p.m., accompanied by a friend, when she noticed the headlights and heard the engine of the SUV being driven up from behind her on the sidewalk, she testified.

Harris used the SUV to strike her before he circled around across lawns for a second strike. He ran over her on the second pass, crushing her left leg. He circled around a third time and stopped, and the victim then noticed that Harris was the driver.

“He looked over at me on the ground and smiled,” she testified during the trial.

Harris circled again a fourth time, aiming at the victim’s friend, who was not injured. The victim’s friend and a nearby resident, meanwhile, called 911.

For the conviction of aggravated second-degree battery, Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Harris on Thursday to the maximum 15 years in prison at hard labor. “I think you were lucky they didn’t charge you with attempted second-degree murder,” Judge Regan told Harris.

The court then proceeded into a multiple bill hearing, with the state seeking an enhanced sentence under the state’s habitual offender law. Four of Harris’ prior felony convictions were used:

  • In 1999, Harris was convicted of distribution of cocaine, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
  • In 1997, Harris was convicted of distribution of a false controlled dangerous substance, or fake cocaine, and was sentenced to three years in prison.
  • In 1995, Harris was convicted of second-degree battery and was sentenced to three years in prison.
  • In 1991, Harris was convicted of armed robbery and was sentenced to five years in prison.

After hearing testimony from a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office latent fingerprint examiner, Kortni Sinon, Judge Regan ruled that prosecutors met their burden in proving that Harris is the same person who was convicted of the previous crimes.

Judge Regan then vacated the 15-year sentence he gave for the aggravated second-degree battery and resentenced Harris to mandatory life sentence in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Harris had been scheduled to be sentenced for the aggravated second-degree battery conviction in September, but the hearing was postponed to October after he told the judge in arguing a pro se motion for a new trial that his constitutional rights were violated. He alleged he was not allowed to cross-examine the victim during the trial, a request he made before his trial but one he did not revive as the victim began testifying. Harris was represented by a public defender who aggressively conducted the cross-examination.

Judge Regan denied Harris’ new-trial request and re-set the sentencing and multiple-bill hearings for Thursday. In multiple bill hearings, fingerprint experts match newly obtained prints to those obtained in the prior criminal cases. The intent is to prove that the defendant is the same person who was convicted of the previous offenses listed in the multiple bill.

On Thursday, Harris, who is 6’7” tall, refused to be fingerprinted voluntarily in court for this process, asserting that doing so would violate his constitutional right against self-incrimination. So Judge Regan ordered corrections officers to escort Harris back to the parish jail to be printed. Deputies escorted him back to court peacefully shortly after for the sentencing hearing.

In August, Harris disrupted his trial in front of the jury by creating a disturbance moments after the victim began testifying against him. That led Judge Regan to grant the defense request for a mistrial. Prosecutors prevailed in having that mistrial order overturned at the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal. The trial resumed with the victim’s testimony, and Harris was convicted the following day.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittany Beckner and Andrew DeCoste prosecuted the aggravated second-degree battery case.

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Marrero man convicted of running ex-girlfriend’s mother over with SUV

A Marrero man who twice used his full-size sports-utility vehicle to hit his ex-girlfriend’s 61-year-old mother, knocking her to the ground on a Harvey street during the first strike and running over her leg on the second pass, was convicted as charged Friday night of aggravated second-degree battery.

Earl K. Harris, 42, faces zero to 15 years in prison for the incident on Sept. 11, 2015, when about 11 p.m., he struck the great-grandmother of three as she walked in the 1100 block of Clydesbank Drive in the Scotsdale neighborhood.

The woman, who uses a cane to help her walk and requires more surgery, was returning to her home after walking to a cousin’s house on Clydesbank Drive, to borrow diapers for one of her grandchildren.

She had a friend accompany her, and as they walked the sidewalk back to her home, she noticed the bright lights and loud engine of an SUV coming up from behind them, she testified Friday. “It was coming fast,” she said.

She testified the SUV struck her, and its driver circled around across homes’ lawns and ran the vehicle over her left leg. He circled around for a third pass. That’s when she recognized the driver, Harris, looking at her through the passenger-side window.

“He looked over at me on the ground and smiled,” she testified.

The victim’s companion and a nearby resident called 911, and the jury heard recordings of the calls. In the companion’s call, the victim is heard wailing in pain – and identifying Harris as the driver who injured her.

“Earl Keith Harris. Please, he’s coming back,” she told the 911 operator. “I need to go to the hospital. Please, please.”

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Justin McLin testified that he arrived to find the woman lying partially in the street. “She was screaming for help,” he testified, adding that the victim identified Harris as the driver. McLin noted fresh tire marks on the grassy lawns on both sides of Clydesbank, showing Harris’ path.

The victim was rushed to Ochsner’s West Bank emergency room, where the treating physician, Dr. Elizabeth Skeins, noted one of the woman’s tibia bones was “broken into several pieces,” she testified. The injury required immediate surgery, Skeins testified.

Harris denied he was the driver, and his public defender suggested that the morphine and hydromorphone the victim was given by paramedics and hospital staff adversely affected her memory. The defense also argued the area of Clydesbank was poorly lit at night, calling into question whether the victim could see who was driving.

From the witness stand, she stood by the identification. “He know[s] he hit me, and I know he hit me,” she insisted during the contentious cross-examination.

Harris made an apparent attempt to derail his trial on Thursday, minutes after his victim began to testify against him the first time. He suddenly stood from his seat at the defense table and, in front of the jury, he interrupted her testimony and created a disturbance.

Citing the potential life sentence in prison Harris could receive as a habitual offender, given his convictions that include armed robbery and narcotics offenses, Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court granted a defense mistrial request. “The court does not want to grant a mistrial, because the court is of the opinion the defendant was acting out. But out of an abundance of caution, the court is going to grant a mistrial,” Judge Regan said Thursday.

He stayed the trial to allow prosecutors to file an immediate appeal. The District Attorney’s Office prevailed at the state 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, which on Friday morning reversed the trial court’s mistrial decision and ordered the trial to resume. In their appeal, prosecutors asserted that Harris attempted to “short-circuit” his own trial through his outburst. The victim resumed her testimony on Friday and insisted that Harris was the driver who injured her.

The jury deliberated more than 2 ½ hours before delivering the verdict after 7:30 p.m. Judge Regan is scheduled to hand down the sentence on Sept. 16.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittany Beckner and Andrew DeCoste prosecuted the case. Assistant District Attorney Darren Allemand handled the appeal.

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Matthew Flugence pleads guilty to first-degree murder of Ahlittia North

Matthew Flugence, the Marrero man accused of killing 6-year-old Ahlittia North before discarding her body in a residential trash can that he rolled to a Harvey curb two years ago, pleaded guilty as charged to first-degree murder on Thursday (March 24), accepting a life sentence in prison in a plea deal that removed the possibility he one day could die by lethal injection.

Flugence, 22, had been charged with first-degree murder, and the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office planned to seek the death penalty. His guilty plea, which removes the death penalty, was negotiated with his public defenders, leading to Thursday’s unscheduled hearing before 24th Judicial District Court Judge Adrian Adams.

“There will always be an Ahlittia-size hole in my heart, in my life,” her mother Lisa North testified during the plea hearing.

The North family agreed to the plea arrangement and was thankful for it, District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. said.

“This outcome gives peace to the Ahilittia’s family, who have been spared the painful experience of reliving the horrible events during the trial,” Connick Jr. said. “Justice has been served.”

Capital cases mandate a high level of scrutiny at the appellate level, meaning the review at higher courts can last for years. This plea ends it. As part of his plea, Flugence agreed to waive his appeal rights and spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of probation, parole or suspended sentence.

Flugence admitted he abducted North from her mother’s apartment in the 2900 block of Destrehan Avenue in Harvey’s Woodmere subdivision on July 13, 2013.

Her disappearance set off a massive search by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and other agencies that ended three days later, when the child’s body was found wrapped in plastic bags and a blanket. Her remains were discarded in a residential garbage can left along Destrehan Avenue near where her mother lived, “to be picked up as though she was not a human being,” Lisa North testified.

“She died terrified and alone at the hands of an evil monster,” Lisa North testified.

North, who would have turned 9 on March 3, was stabbed twice in the neck and twice in the abdomen.

Flugence, whose uncle was North’s stepfather, emerged as the suspect and was arrested three days after she disappeared. Police found him walking alone on Victory Drive in Westwego. He was carrying a knife, police said at the time.

He confessed, asserting that the child initiated sexual contact behind an apartment building on Destrehan Avenue, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. After the encounter he alleged happened, he told police, he snapped, stabbed her and watched her die.

Lisa North said Flugence “showed no grace or mercy” throughout the ordeal, including his baseless accusations of what he alleged her daughter did. “But far worse than that, he shows no remorse,” she testified.

In connection with the plea arrangement, the District Attorney’s Office also dismissed charges of aggravated rape, unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, two counts of battery on a corrections officer and resisting arrest by force or violence. The rape charge did not involve Ahlittia.

Flugence’s brother, Russell Flugence, 24, of Marrero, pleaded guilty to a charge of failure to report a certain felony in 2014 and was sentenced to one year in prison. He admitted his brother told him he killed North, but he didn’t report it to police.

Assistant District Attorneys Sunny Funk and Doug Freese prosecuted the cases.

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Terrebonne Parish man pleads guilty as charged to murdering girlfriend on Grand Isle

A Terrebonne Parish man pleaded guilty as charged Tuesday (March 15) to the second-degree murder of his girlfriend, admitting he stabbed her 44 times all over her body during an argument on Grand Isle.

Randy Paul Marcel, 29, of Chauvin, pleaded guilty knowing he would automatically be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. He admitted he killed his girlfriend of two years, Jennifer Dozier, also of Chauvin, during the June 21, 2014, crime.

Dozier, 34, whose left leg had been amputated because of injuries sustained in an automobile accident, died about 10 p.m. Police found her body near her aluminum crutches in the grassy parking area near the beach at Cypress Lane and Louisiana 1.

Marcel, Dozier, her 2-year-old son and a friend and his cousin were visiting Grand Isle for the weekend when the couple argued over an array of reasons. Marcel knocked her to the ground during an argument over her having his cigarettes.

She got up and was walking to their vehicle, saying she was calling police, when Marcel attacked her with a blue-handle fillet knife he purchased days earlier. Marcel’s cousin and their third friend witnessed the attack, and Dozier’s child also was nearby.

Dozier’s mother, Patricia Killingsworth, testified during the sentencing hearing that she hears her grandson, now 4, cry every night for his mother.

”I cannot begin to tell anyone the heartache and the pain that I suffer every night, every day without her,” Killingsworth testified. “She was far from perfect, but she was mine. She was my daughter.”

Marcel wept quietly during the sentencing hearing but said nothing to the members of Dozier’s family that traveled to the Jefferson Parish Courthouse in Gretna from Terrebonne Parish to witness the sentencing.

Dozier suffered 10 stab wounds to her head, two of which punctured her brain; 24 wounds to her trunk; five to her neck; and three defensive wounds on her hands, among other injuries. She received at least one stab wound after she died, according to the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office.

Marcel ran after the attack. A nearby resident saw the police searching the area and noticed Marcel hiding in tall grass near the end of Cypress Lane. The resident alerted police, leading to Marcel’s arrest. Marcel gave detectives three statements, initially saying he blacked out and remembered nothing. He finally confessed, but he recalled only stabbing Dozier twice in self-defense, he told Sgt. Travis Eserman, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detective who led the investigation.

Marcel, who has been jailed since his arrest, was to stand trial this week for second-degree murder. He sat in 24th Judicial District Court Judge Lee Faulkner’s courtroom dressed for trial, but entered the guilty plea before the first panel of prospective jurors was escorted to court.

Judge Faulkner then agreed to postpone the sentencing for several hours, to give Dozier’s family time to travel from Terrebonne Parish.

Dozier, a native of Laurel, Miss., left three children behind. She dated Marcel about two years, but he fathered none of her children. Last year, her brother, Adam Dozier, was held in contempt of court and fined $100 for punching Marcel in the face as he was escorted into the courtroom for a pretrial hearing.

“I’ve tried to be strong through this for my other children,” Killingsworth testified. “To them I apologize, because I haven’t been there for them. Because I was trying to grieve for my daughter. My life will never, ever be the same, and understand that. I’m just trying to move on.”

The last time a Jefferson Parish defendant pleaded guilty as charged second-degree murder was in 2011, when Mark Sonnier, stopped his trial just after a prosecutor finished her opening statements during his trial.

Sonnier admitted he killed a Metairie man with a brass lap in the man’s home during a home invasion. In pleading guilty, Sonnier told the court he pleaded guilty as charged to spare the victims’ families of having to sit through the trial. Faulkner presided over that case, too.

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

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