A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday night (Sept. 7) found Dartanya O. Spottsville guilty of his role in the murders of a pair of cousins who were shot during an apparent ambush inside a West Bank apartment on Father’s Day 2015.
Spottsville, 35, of Marrero, was convicted as charged of two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Johnell Ovide and Trammell Marshall, one count of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of another man and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
His conviction brings to two the number of times he’s been found guilty of the crimes.
The first time Spottsville was convicted was in September 2019. Jurors in that trial did not return with unanimous verdicts. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an unrelated case, Ramos v. Louisiana, that non-unanimous verdicts are unconstitutional. As a result of the Ramos decision, Spottsville received a new trial.
About 10 p.m., on June 21, 2015, Spottsville and two friends — Jacobie Green and Johnell Walker, both of whom were armed — arrived unexpected at a small, one-bedroom apartment in the 1600 block of Apache Drive, just off Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey. Spottsville and Walker sat on sofas in the living room. Green stood in the doorway, the only way out of the apartment.
Ovide, Marshall and two other men already were at the apartment. At least two of those men had pistols.
Ovide allowed Spottsville to handle his pistol. After doing so, Spottsville handed the pistol back to Ovide. Spottsville then held the pistol owned by the surviving victim. For unknown reasons and without provocation, Spottsville shot Ovide and then shot the surviving victim. Chaos ensued, with Green and Walker, immediately opening fire and striking the three victims.
The 23-year-old man who rented the apartment fled into his bedroom and dove through a closed window to escape. At the same time, Spottsville ran past Green and out of the apartment, likely in pursuit of the renter who was able to escape. Marshall ran into the kitchen, followed by Green and Walker, and more shots were fired there.
By the time the gunfire ended, Ovide, 23, was shot three times, with one of the bullets piercing both lungs and his heart. Marshall, 21, was shot five times; three of those bullets struck his body from the rear. The surviving victim was shot three times, including once in the face.
Spottsville, Green and Walker fled and were not injured.
Hiding nearby in the apartment complex, the renter who escaped called 911. The first Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived two minutes later to find the three gunshot victims outside the apartment. Ovide lay dead or dying in the grass near Marshall, who died a short while later at a hospital. The third victim sat leaning against the apartment’s entry doorframe.
Detectives immediately identified Spottsville as a suspect and obtained an arrest warrant. Spottsville surrendered the following day.
Spottsville initially denied involvement and told detectives that he was in New Orleans East when the shooting occurred. But detectives refuted the alibi assertion by using his cell phone to show that he was, in fact, near the murder scene when the shooting occurred. His cell phone data showed he went to New Orleans East only after the shooting.
In testimony Thursday, Spottsville admitted he lied to detectives about being in New Orleans East. Explaining why he fired a pistol, he asserted self-defense. He told jurors he was sitting on a sofa looking at his phone when he looked up to find a pistol pointed at him. During a tussle for the pistol, it fired, he testified. He wrestled the pistol away, fired it once at the surviving victim, dropped it and fled, Spottsville told jurors. He heard more gunfire as he ran to his car, he asserted.
Under cross-examination, Spottsville was pressed on why he raised self-defense only after his alibi effort failed. He was questioned about why the pistol he said he dropped in the living room was never found. And he was asked about why his and Green’s cell phone data showed they left the murder scene and went straight to Lake Pontchartrain’s Lincoln Beach in New Orleans East.
In rebuttal, prosecutors provided expert witness testimony to show that three bullet casings were found in the living room that were fired by the pistol that Spottsville said was fired only twice. Further, the location of the ejected bullet casings in the living room was consistent with where two witnesses said Spottsville stood when he shot Ovide and then the surviving victim. The evidence shows that all but one of the bullets that the trio fired in the apartment struck victims; the other bullet struck a wall.
Spottsville, Green and Walker were prosecuted as principals to the murders, meaning they were working in concert with each other in committing the crimes. A look at the convictions shows:
- Green, 31, of New Orleans, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without probation, parole or suspension of sentence in September 2018.
- Walker, 29, of Marrero, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without probation, parole or suspension of sentence in October 2021. Nine days after he was sentenced, Walker was found unresponsive at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
- Archie Hulbert III, 39, of Algiers, pleaded guilty as charged to perjury in February 2018 and received a 7-year prison sentence. He admitted to lying to detectives about the time Green arrived at a Terrytown location after the murders occurred.
The jury that was seated on Monday deliberated almost four hours Thursday before unanimously convicting Spottsville of the murder and attempted murder counts, and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was prohibited from possessing guns because of a previous conviction of heroin possession in Jefferson Parish.
Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Spottsville on Oct. 11.
Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Clauss and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.