Tag: homicide

Corey Woods convicted anew in Bunche Village triple-murder

A Jefferson Parish jury on Friday (Aug. 19) convicted Corey Woods of killing three people, including the 16-year-old younger sister of his intended victim, while they sat inside a car in East Jefferson’s Bunche Village neighborhood.

Woods, 37, of Metairie, who is known as “Cocomo,” is guilty as charged of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

On the night of Jan. 22, 2017, Woods killed Malcolm Wallace, 25, of Metairie; Wallace’s girlfriend, Daneka Lott, 24, of Kenner; and Wallace’s 16-year-old sister, whose name is withheld because she was a juvenile. Woods’ target was Wallace, and he killed Lott and the teenager to eliminate witnesses.

“Three people executed. Executed. Five different shots fired, each one saying, ‘I want you dead,’” Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese, who prosecuted with Lynn Schiffman, told jurors in closing argument Friday. “This was an execution, as cold-blooded a crime as you could imagine.”

Woods, a longtime acquaintance of the Wallace family, spent part of the evening with the family in their home, watching a football game.

Afterward, Woods, Wallace, Lott and the teenager traveled to a sporting goods store on Veterans Memorial Boulevard in a 2006 Honda Accord so Woods could purchase slippers. A 6-year-old boy at the Wallace residence wanted to tag along, but Woods gave the child $5 to remain behind, suggesting that he knew what was to happen.

After purchasing the slippers and stopping at a fast-food restaurant, they were returning to the Wallace residence. In the 1400 block of South Laurel Street, just off Mistletoe Street, Woods began shooting while inside the car.

Sitting behind the driver’s seat, Woods shot Wallace twice; a bullet severed his spinal cord. He shot Lott in the right side of her head. They both died later at a hospital.

Woods shot the 16-year-old girl in the back of her head. She died in the back seat.

Immediately after, Woods fled on foot across Airline Drive, taking with him the slippers they just purchased.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives booked Woods with the murders based on a combination of witnesses, cell phone records and business surveillance videos.

Woods was legally prohibited from possessing firearms because of narcotics convictions.

Woods denied being the killer. The jury deliberated less than 1 ½ hours before returning with its unanimous verdict.

This brings to two the number of times Woods was convicted of the killings. In November 2018, a jury found Woods guilty as charged, and he subsequently was sentenced to life in prison.

However, he received a new trial because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 decision, Ramos vs. Louisiana, which mandates unanimous jury verdicts. The jury that convicted Woods in 2018 was nonunanimous, 10-2 in favor of guilt.

Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Woods on Sept. 2.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted Woods.

Rondell Lasalle sentenced to 35 years for Harvey manslaughter conviction

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (June 30) sentenced Rondell Lasalle to 35 years in prison for his conviction of shooting a man in the back during a fight in a Harvey apartment.

Lasalle, 30, of Marrero, was convicted by a jury on April 6 of manslaughter in the death of James Cole, 27. Lasalle also was found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

On the night of March 8, 2020, Lasalle and Cole were in an apartment in the 1100 block of Orange Blossom Lane when an argument escalated to a physical altercation. During the fight, Lasalle shot Cole in the back. Cole died the following day.

Shortly after he was shot, Cole told a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy that Lasalle was the shooter. Other people who were in the apartment did not see the fight but heard the ruckus and two gunshots. One witness also saw Lasalle leave the apartment immediately after the gunshots.

Soon after, the Gretna Police Department detained Lasalle after seeing him walking along a drainage canal bank that marks the city’s municipal boundary with Harvey and is two blocks from Orange Blossom Lane.

Lasalle carried a backpack, in which there was a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. A fired casing was jammed in the slide, making the pistol inoperable, according to testimony.

Lasalle asserted self-defense, and his attorneys argued the shooting was accidental. Lasalle testified that during an afternoon of playing video games, he teased Cole about the mother of his children. The friction led to an argument that escalated to a fist fight and culminated with Cole brandishing a pistol, Lasalle testified.

He told jurors that he twisted Cole’s arm behind his back in trying to disarm him, and that’s when the pistol fired. Fearing retribution from Cole’s friends, Lasalle said he picked up the pistol and fled instead of calling 911 and trying to help the dying man.

Both men’s DNA was recovered from the pistol. Lasalle’s DNA was recovered in far greater amounts, suggesting that the pistol was his, according to testimony.

Prosecutors put on rebuttal witnesses to refute Lasalle’s self-defense assertion. Evidence showed that Cole was shot in the back at a distance, meaning the pistol was not mere inches from his back when the trigger was pulled, as Lasalle described in testimony. Also, the trajectory that the bullet followed through Cole’s body further refuted Lasalle’s version of the shooting, according to testimony.

By law, Lasalle was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his criminal history. Jurors heard of a simple burglary conviction and that he was previously convicted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

For killing Cole, Lasalle stood trial on a charge of second-degree murder. The jury deliberated just over two hours in finding Lasalle guilty of manslaughter, a lesser homicide offense that carries a punishment of up to 40 years in prison.

On Thursday, Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Lasalle to 35 years for manslaughter and 20 years for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Judge Mentz ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

Justin ‘Jeeky’ Hutchinson guilty of murdering New Orleans man at Marrero bar & grill

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday night (May 26) found Justin A. “Jeeky” Hutchinson guilty as charged of second-degree murder for shooting a New Orleans man repeatedly outside a Marrero bar and grill.

Using his 9mm semiautomatic pistol, Hutchinson, 32, of Marrero, shot Rashad Lewis once in the head, five times in his left abdomen and once in the pelvis as he sat in the driver’s seat of his parents’ 2016 Mercedes Benz SUV.

Hutchinson then grabbed Lewis’ .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol from inside the vehicle and fired repeatedly at the SUV. In all, Hutchinson fired 17 bullets at Lewis and Lewis’ SUV.

Lewis, 29, died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds.

The shooting happened about 10 p.m., on Oct. 21, 2020, in a bar and grill parking lot in the 6500 block of Lapalco Boulevard. Lewis was among about 50 people gathered at the business to celebrate the memory of a friend who had been killed in New Orleans. Lewis was friends with that victim’s brother.

Immediately after shooting Lewis, Hutchinson ran by the entrance to the bar and waived the pistol at the patrons inside before he ran on. Hutchinson was known to many people in that part of Marrero.

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office juvenile detective who just completed curfew checks happened to be driving by, heard the gunfire and saw a man dressed in distinctive clothing — Hutchinson – running from the scene. The detective saw the suspect discard the 9mm pistol in a yard in the 2000 block of Betty Street. Sheriff’s Office ballistics experts later concluded that pistol was used in this crime. The .40-caliber pistol was not recovered.

The crime was recorded by a video surveillance system, and jurors were shown the recordings. The video showed Hutchinson and Lewis exchanging words several times in the minutes before the shooting. Further, Hutchinson was identified as the shooter.

Investigators also found Hutchinson’s social media posts from that evening, in which he told his followers two hours before he shot Lewis that he was at the Lapalco Boulevard bar and grill. After killing Lewis, Hutchinson remained at large for more than three weeks, when he surrendered to the Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to the murder charge, Hutchinson was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice, for removing the pistols from the scene.

He also was convicted as charged of two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was legally prohibited from possessing guns because of a 2015 conviction of aggravated assault with a firearm. One count is based on his having the 9mm pistol, and the second one stems from his possessing Lewis’ .40-caliber pistol.

Hutchinson’s attorney argued that his client is innocent and was framed. Jurors deliberated almost 3 ½ hours before delivering its guilty verdicts.

Judge R. Christopher Cox III of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Hutchinson on June 15.

Assistant District Attorneys Laura Schneidau and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.

Everette Campbell pleads guilty to role in Marrero homicide, gets 35-year sentence

A Jefferson Parish judge on Tuesday (May 24) sentenced Everette Campbell to 35 years in prison for his role in an attempted robbery during which his codefendant shot four people, killing two of them.

Campbell, 26, of Terrytown, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and one count of obstruction of justice.

The codefendant, Malik McGinnis, 25, of Avondale, has been convicted of being the gunman who shot and killed the two people and shot and injured two others.

The crime occurred just before 10 p.m., on Sept. 4, 2019, inside a four-bedroom home in the 3000 block of Sorbonne Drive. McGinnis, who had been acquainted with the victims, and Campbell went to the residence planning to steal from a resident who sold marijuana.

However, McGinnis shot and killed Ronald Eddington, 21. McGinnis then shot and killed Eddington’s 7-year-old sister. Her 11-year-old sister was shot in her left forearm. And a 19-year-old family friend was shot in his stomach as he wrestled with McGinnis.

During his jury trial, McGinnis was convicted as charged on Feb. 17 of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to life in prison on March 8.

A jury was selected on Monday to weigh evidence against Campbell. He was prosecuted as a principal to second-degree murder but offered Tuesday to plead guilty to the lesser offense of manslaughter. His attorneys told jurors during opening statements Monday that while Campbell was present in the residence, he did not shoot anyone and was unaware that McGinnis was going to shoot anyone.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court presided over both cases. In accepting the guilty plea, Judge Mentz sentenced Campbell to 35 years in prison for each count of manslaughter and obstruction of justice, with one count of manslaughter to be served without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence. The sentences were run concurrent to each other and with a 6-month jail term for possession of risperidone without a prescription.

On Monday, Campbell also pleaded guilty to cultivation of marijuana and received a 5-year sentence. While investigating the Marrero homicides, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives discovered that Campbell was growing marijuana in his South Forest Lawn Drive apartment.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted Campbell and McGinnis.

Torus ‘T-Man’ Wallace guilty of Metairie killing over $35 drug debt

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (May 10) found Torus “T-Man” Wallace guilty of manslaughter for killing a Metairie man struggling with substance abuse over a $35 drug debt.

Wallace, 24, of Metairie, killed Rene Rachel, 32, as he sat in his vehicle in the 500 block of North Elm Street, waiting for an intermediary to deliver “MOJO,” a street name for synthetic marijuana.

Wallace also was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice for removing the .45-caliber pistol he used to kill Rachel from the scene.

Just after 6 p.m., on March 29, 2020, Rachel, who struggled with addiction, traveled from his Metairie home to the neighborhood near Airline Drive and David Drive to purchase narcotics. As he entered the neighborhood, he picked up the intermediary who would acquire the synthetic marijuana for him.

As Rachel waited, Wallace appeared on a bicycle and inquired about drugs and the debt. When Rachel rebuffed him, Wallace brandished the pistol and fired once through the passenger side window. The bullet went through Rachel’s right forearm and struck him in the upper chest. He died shortly after in the parking lot of a business at Airline Drive and David Drive.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office received a tip from a source indicating that “T-Man” was the killer. The Sheriff’s Office knew T-Man to be Wallace. Wallace was identified as the shooter by an eyewitness.

Jurors also heard testimony showing that four days before the shooting, Rachel went to the same neighborhood to acquire illegal narcotics and encountered Wallace. Wallace threatened to kill Rachel unless he paid the $35 drug debt.

Through his attorneys, Wallace denied shooting Rachel. His attorneys argued there was no credible evidence linking him to the crime.

Wallace was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a punishment of life in prison without parole, probation or suspension of sentence. The jury that was seated on Monday deliberated three hours before returning the lesser offense.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Wallace on May 26.

Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson and John Ransone prosecuted the case.

Convicted of fatally beating his girlfriend, Pedro Monterroso sentenced to life in prison

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (May 4) sentenced Pedro Monterroso to spend the rest of his life in prison for his conviction of beating his girlfriend to death as five of his children lay in a bed just feet away.

Monterroso, 51, received the mandatory sentence for his conviction of the second-degree murder of Heidy Monroy, 24.

During an argument over whether she was romantically involved with another man, Monterroso beat her with a length of rebar in the bathroom of their Durand Street apartment in Metairie on July 13, 2014.

Just outside the bathroom were five of his children, three of whom he fathered with Monroy.

Monterroso fled, leaving the two young sons he fathered with Monroy with their mother’s body in the bathtub. Those boys found their mother and alerted a neighbor, who notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Monterroso fled to Texas with the other three children and was arrested the following day.

After denying a defense request for a new trial, 24th Judicial District Judge Donald “Chick” Foret sentenced Monterroso to the mandatory punishment of life in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Zach Popovich prosecuted the case.

Terrance Leonard pleads guilty, gets 4 life sentences in Terrytown murders

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (April 21) sentenced Terrance Leonard to four consecutive life sentences in prison for beating his girlfriend and three children to death with a hammer in their Terrytown apartment.

Leonard, 36, pleaded guilty as charged to four counts of first-degree murder in the March 6, 2019, deaths of Kristina Riley, 32, her 14-year-old daughter, her 10-year-old son and her 9-year-old niece. In connection with his plea, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to not seek the death penalty.

He also pleaded guilty as charged to the attempted first-degree murder of another of Ms. Riley’s daughters, who was 12 years old at the time of the attack, and to obstruction of justice.

Leonard received a 50-year sentence for the attempted first-degree murder, run consecutive to the four life sentences, and a 40-year sentence for the obstruction of justice.

The crimes happened in their apartment in the 900 block of West Monterey Court. On the morning of March 6, 2019, Leonard’s mother found the victims suffering from head trauma and notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs’ Office.

Ms. Riley, her son and her niece died in the apartment. Her 14-year-old daughter died days later at a hospital.

After Ms. Riley’s mother provided impact testimony, Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Leonard.

Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Kellie Rish prosecuted the case.

Jury finds Arizona man guilty of negligent homicide in chokehold death

A Jefferson Parish judge on Friday (April 8) sentenced Vincent Medearis to five years in prison for his conviction of killing his inebriated coworker with a lethal chokehold in a Kenner hotel room two years ago.

The Friday morning sentencing hearing came about 18 hours after a jury found Medearis guilty of negligent homicide in the death of Isaias Fino, 39, of Goodyear, Ariz. Five years is the maximum sentence for negligent homicide under Louisiana law.

Medearis, 58, of Phoenix, Ariz., was charged with manslaughter. The jury deliberated about 2 ½ hours before returning with the negligent homicide verdict Thursday night. In doing so, jurors rejected Medearis’ self-defense claims.

In a victim-impact letter read aloud in court, Fino’s sisters asked for the maximum sentence. Although Fino was vilified in testimony during the trial, his sisters described him as the “kindhearted” father of a 5-year-old daughter whose death left “a void in (his mother’s) heart.”

Medearis expressed regret for his actions and asked Fino’s family to forgive him.

The men were employed by an Arizona-based roofing company and were in the New Orleans area for work, according to evidence presented at trial. They were staying in a hotel in the 2600 block of Williams Boulevard.

According to testimony, Fino, a foreman known among his subordinates for his obnoxious and abrasive personality, was drunk when about 9 p.m., on March 5, 2020, he went to a hotel room that Medearis shared with a roommate.

Hostile horseplay led to a physical altercation between Fino and the roommate, and then between Medearis and Fino, according to testimony. Medearis held Fino in a chokehold. The roommate told him to stop as Fino coughed and wheezed, according to testimony. Medearis told his roommate to report Fino’s behavior to their boss.

The roommate left the room to summon their boss, and when he returned, Fino was dead. Medearis remained on scene and called 911, according to testimony.

When Kenner Police Department Detective Nick Engler arrived at the hotel room, he found Medearis standing at the foot of the bed, smoking a cigarette and looking down on the body, the officer testified. In his statement to Detective Engler, Medearis said he held Fino in a chokehold until he stopped coughing and his body went limp.

Medearis’ chokehold caused a fracture in Fino’s thyroid cartilage. Fino died of asphyxia due to manual strangulation. Fino’s blood-alcohol content was .29 percent, more than three times over the legal limit to drive in Louisiana, according to evidence presented at trial.

Medearis, who had no violent criminal history, testified Thursday that he held Fino in a chokehold to restrain him. His attorneys argued that he was defending himself and asserted that the high alcohol content in Fino’s body could have hastened his death.

Prosecutors conceded that Medearis acted in the heat of blood, an element of manslaughter. But in holding Fino in a chokehold, Medearis had specific intent to inflict great bodily harm that led to Fino’s death, another element of manslaughter.

The prosecutors also argued that Medearis was guilty under the misdemeanor-manslaughter doctrine: Medearis was committing a simple battery when he caused Fino’s death.

Negligent homicide is defined as the killing of a human being by criminal negligence. Criminal negligence exists “there is such disregard of the interest of others that the offender’s conduct amounts to a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a reasonably careful man under like circumstances.”

“You held him long enough that you choked the life out of him,” Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court told Medearis in announcing the sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Christina Fisher and Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.

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.