Tag: kenner police department

Kenner man convicted of raping a child

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday evening (June 3) found Tobe Lawrence Jr. guilty as charged of raping a child during a 7-year period. 

Lawrence, 59, of Kenner, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for his conviction of first-degree rape of a victim under the age of 12. The abuse, which occurred between from 2001 and 2008, was reported to the Kenner Police Department in July 2018. 

Prosecutors were also able to present testimony from an additional victim who is now 35 years old who was abused by the defendant in a similar manner. That victim was initially reluctant to participate in the prosecution. While Lawrence was not charged for abusing this victim, prosecutors were allowed to present this testimony to show evidence of Lawrence’s commission of another crime, wrong or act involving sexually assaultive behavior under Louisiana law as “lustful disposition” towards a child. 

Lawrence, a then volunteer coach in the Kenner Parks and Recreations Department’s Lincoln Manor Gym, denied the accusations and said the victims lied. Of the child he raped, his defense lawyers asserted the victim must have confused Lawrence with a convicted sex offender who lived near their client.

Jurors deliberated just over one hour before returning their unanimous verdict. Judge Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Lawrence on June 30.

Assistant District Attorneys Zach Grate and Lindsey Truhe prosecuted the case.

 

 

Westwego man convicted of sexually assaulting two women as Jefferson Parish jury trials resume

A Jefferson Parish jury, the first one empaneled in the 24th Judicial District since the Louisiana Supreme Court lifted its year-long moratorium on jury trials last month, convicted a Westwego man Wednesday (April 21) of sexually assaulting two women.

John W. Patton, 56, is guilty as charged of the attempted forcible rape of one victim, and of the forcible rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment of a second victim, the jury decided after 50 minutes of deliberation.

The first victim was a 44-year-old woman who Patton attempted to rape on Oct. 29, 2016, in her apartment in Kenner, according to trial testimony. Patton met the woman through a dating website several weeks before the crime occurred.

The second victim was a 50-year-old woman Patton victimized between Sept. 7, 2018 and Sept. 8, 2018, in his Westwego residence, according to trial testimony. The victim also met Patton through a dating website. Patton lured the victim to his home after asserting that his sister was there. After the victim arrived, and upon learning there was no sister present, Patton attacked her and held her at knifepoint before eventually letting her leave the following day, according to trial testimony.

The woman testified she relented to Patton’s demands because she was afraid of him. “Ladies and gentlemen, complying out of fear is not consent,” Assistant District Attorney Zach Popovich, who prosecuted Patton with Laura Schneidau, told jurors in opening statements on April 13.

“Ladies and gentlemen, complying out of fear is not consent.”- Assistant District Attorney Zach Popovich

The victim in the 2016 crime did not report it to police until reading of the second victim in a 2018 news report, according to trial testimony. Both women described Patton as sexually assaulting them but unable to maintain an erection.

Patton, who previously fired his court-appointed attorney and acted as his own defense counsel, denied assaulting the women or being impotent. He accused the police of engaging in misconduct.

Judge Stephen Grefer is scheduled to sentence Patton on May 19.

Patton’s jury trial was the first in Jefferson Parish since the Louisiana Supreme Court lifted its statewide moratorium that was enacted last year in response to the pandemic. The moratorium was lifted effective April 1.

A second post-moratorium jury was seated last week in Judge Adrian Adams’ court. On Thursday (April 15), those jurors convicted a Baton Rouge man of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Assistant District Attorneys Zach Grate and Margaret Martin prosecuted that case.

Then, on Tuesday (April 20), a jury was seated in Judge Frank Brindisi’s court to weigh evidence against Alexander Style, 41, of New Orleans, who was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and witness intimidation. But before opening statements began Wednesday, Styles pleaded guilty as charged and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Assistant District Attorneys Joshua Vanderhooft and Matthew Whitworth prosecuted the case.

In November, meanwhile, when the moratorium was temporarily lifted, a jury seated in Judge Michael Mentz’s court convicted a Marrero man of violating a protective order and of other offenses. That jury was seated only because the defendant filed a speedy trial motion earlier in the year. Assistant District Attorneys Popovich and Rebecca Kehoe Thomas prosecuted that case.

 

 

Twyena Thomas sentenced to life for murdering her toddler

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Sept. 30) sentenced Twyena Thomas to life in prison for her conviction of killing her 28-month-old son, Chase Thomas.

On the two-year anniversary of Chase’s death, Thomas, 29, appeared in court to receive the mandatory punishment for second-degree murder. A Jefferson Parish jury on Aug. 22 convicted her as charged for causing her son’s death in their Kenner apartment through blunt-force trauma injuries to his head. Chase also weighed a mere 15 pounds at death.

 “Chase’s scars, scabs, bruises, his broken skull and his 15-pound body tell us that you were the hateful monster.”

“Chase died alone in his room, scared not of the imaginary monster in his closet, but you. You were the monster. Chase’s scars, scabs, bruises, his broken skull and his 15-pound body tell us that you were the hateful monster,” 24th Judicial District Judge Danyelle Taylor said in sentencing Thomas to life at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

After denying post-verdict motions for a new trial, Judge Taylor heard letters written by six people and two witnesses before handing down the sentence. The defendant addressed the Court prior to sentencing and stated that Chase “didn’t deserve that.”

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Whitworth and Jenny Voss prosecuted the case.

Man convicted of sexually abusing girl sentenced to 60 years

A Jefferson Parish judge sentenced Rafael Chinchilla to 60 years in prison Thursday (Sept. 12), for his conviction of sexually abusing a child.

Chinchilla, 33, a native of Honduras, was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury on Aug. 30 of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13, indecent behavior with a juvenile under age 13 and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

The abuse began when the victim was 11 years old and continued until she was 13. The crimes occurred in Metairie and Kenner, during which Chinchilla sent her text messages both professing his love for her and threatening her. Police were notified in February 2017, after the victim’s father searched her mobile device and found evidence of the abuse, including audio of the victim telling Chinchilla to stop.

After hearing impact testimony from the victim and her father, Judge E. Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Chinchilla to 60 years for the sexual battery, 20 years for the indecent behavior of a juvenile under age 13 and seven years for the indecent behavior with a juvenile. The sentences were run concurrently.

Judge Adams also ordered that, should Chinchilla be released from prison, he be electronically monitored and register as a sex offender for life.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Clauss and Emily Booth prosecuted the case.

Twyena Thomas guilty of murdering her 28-month-old son

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday night (Aug. 22) found Twyena Thomas guilty of causing her 28-month-old son’s death through blunt-force trauma injuries to the child’s head.

Thomas, 29, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Chase Thomas in the Kenner apartment he shared with his mother and three siblings. He stopped breathing on Sept. 30, 2017. His severely emaciated body weighed a mere 15 pounds.

Although Chase was malnourished and dehydrated, his death was caused by blunt-force trauma to the head. According to an expert in pediatric child abuse, Chase was the victim of “child torture,” which includes psychological, emotional and physical abuse and starvation.

The jury, which was seated Tuesday, deliberated just over a half-hour. Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Thomas on Sept. 30.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Whitworth and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Week roundup: Juries render guilty verdicts in JP, Kenner narcotics cases

Jefferson Parish juries this week rendered guilty verdicts in three narcotics cases, including that of a Kenner man who was booked with selling heroin to another man who overdosed.

Matthew Locicero, 31, was convicted as charged Thursday night (June 27) of distribution of heroin and obstruction of justice in connection with a Sept. 8, 2018 incident. Kenner police booked Locicero after learning he sold $40 worth of heroin to a 53-year-old man who collapsed outside a strip mall in the 4000 block of Williams Boulevard.

Locicero then concealed evidence of the crime by disposing the needle and other items in a trash can. That act led to the obstruction of justice conviction.

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Locicero on July 10.

Assistant District Attorneys Laura Schneidau and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.

Jefferson man guilty of cocaine dealing, flight from JPSO

Meanwhile, a Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (June 26) convicted Charles A. Lane Jr., of being a crack cocaine dealer who led narcotics agents on a high-speed pursuit through Metairie that ended with a fiery crash.

Lane, 35, of Jefferson, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine 28 grams or greater, possession of methamphetamine, aggravated flight and criminal damage valued at more than $1,000 but less than $50,000.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics detectives investigated Lane after learning he would be going to a motel in the 2400 block of Clearview Parkway with narcotics about 1 a.m., on April 12, 2018.

In the parking lot, deputies used their police units with emergency lights activated to box in Lane’s Chevrolet Tahoe, according to trial evidence. Attempting to flee, Lane rammed a police unit and escaped the motel parking lot, leading deputies on a pursuit through Metairie during which he disregarded traffic signals and traveled upwards of 75 mph in a 35 mph zone.

The pursuit ended near Lane’s apartment in the 2900 block of Burns Street. He lost control of his SUV and struck a parked vehicle. He then rammed a second JPSO vehicle, causing it to catch fire. The deputies found seven grams of white powder on Lane’s body and another 28 grams in his apartment.

Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Lane on July 18.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittney Beckner and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case.

Methamphetamine dealer convicted

Separately, Shawn Clark, 43, of Marrero, was sentenced Thursday (June 27) to 10 years in prison two days after a jury convicted him of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Clark’s conviction stems from a traffic stop initiated by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on Westwood Drive in Marrero on Jan. 20, 2019. The deputies smelled marijuana in the car, arrested him and then found a pill bottle containing the methamphetamine, according to trial testimony.

Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court presided over the two-day trial that ended Tuesday (June 25) and sentenced Clark. A multiple bill hearing is scheduled for July 15.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

 

Ex-gymnastics coach pleads guilty to molesting boys, sentenced to 65 years in prison

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (April 15) sentenced former gymnastics coach Jonathan M. West of Kenner to 65 years in prison, after West admitted he sexually exploited 13 boys under his care.

West, 27, pleaded guilty as charged to the offenses outlined in a 24-count bill of information. The victims were between the ages of eight and 15 when the abuse happened, beginning in 2015 and ending with his arrest on May 31, 2018, according to the bill of information.

West pleaded to:

  • Nine counts of indecent behavior with juveniles;
  • One count of indecent behavior with a juvenile under age 13;
  • Eight counts of sexual battery;
  • Two counts of oral sexual battery;
  • Three counts of sexual battery of a child under age 13; and,
  • One count of computer solicitation of a minor under age 13.

West’s sentences were:

  • 65 years for each of the sexual battery of juveniles under age 13;
  • 25 years for the indecent behavior with a juvenile under age 13;
  • 20 years for the computer solicitation of a minor under age 13;
  • 10 years for each of the sexual battery counts;
  • 10 years for each of the oral sexual battery counts; and,
  • Seven years for each of the indecent behavior with juvenile counts.

Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court ran the sentences concurrently, for a total of 65 years.

Judge Enright also ordered that West be electronically monitored and to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life, should he ever be released from prison. The judge additionally ordered that any of West’s electronics equipment used in the computer solicitation offense be seized and auctioned.

The judge heard impact statements from nine people, including six mothers of the victims who knew West as “Jonny.”

West worked as a gymnastics and cheerleading coach at businesses in Metairie, Kenner and St. Charles Parish. In some cases, he molested the victims while driving them to the gyms. In some cases, West told the victims that his actions would make them better at gymnastics.

Following West’s arrest, which was publicized in local news reports, more victims came forward, telling police they too were abused.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.

Rushton, Schiffman receive ‘excellence’ award for double-murder prosecution

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman were among the recipients of the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s Excellence in Law Enforcement Awards. Members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and Kenner Police Department also received the award.

 

The Metropolitan Crime Commission on Tuesday (Feb. 5) recognized assistant district attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman for the prosecution of an Avondale man who was convicted last year of a double murder in Kenner.

Rushton and Schiffman were presented 2019 Excellence in Law Enforcement awards during the commission’s annual meeting and awards luncheon, held at the Sheraton in downtown New Orleans.

A Jefferson Parish jury in January 2018 convicted Shaun Barnett of two counts of first-degree murder for the April 4, 2016 deaths of Dawn Scott, 28, and Raynell Kimbrough, 31. The couple was in bed in their Kenner home early on the morning of April 4, 2016, when Barnett shot them. A child in the house heard the gunfire and escorted his younger brother outside; police found an uninjured infant on the bed next to Scott.

Barnett has been sentenced to life in prison.

Louisiana State Police investigator Leland “Corky” Dwight, Kenner Police Department Detective Harold P. Pendergast, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dennis Thornton and the JPSO Crime Laboratory staff also received the award for their work in solving the double-murder.

The commission presents the awards in recognition of those who “performed extraordinary service” to criminal justice. The awardees have “a record of continuity and consistency of service and shall reflect the admirable quality of integrity, both personal and professional.”

The week’s round-up: Juries convict in rape, illegal gun cases

Jefferson Parish juries returned two guilty verdicts in unrelated trials this week, including that of a Kenner man who was convicting of raping an intoxicated woman in his car while she was unconscious.

Third-degree rape conviction

Cornelius Williams, 29, was convicted as charged of third-degree rape following a two-day trial that ended Tuesday (Jan. 8). Williams raped a 21-year-old woman on Feb. 19, 2017, while parked in an alley outside his home in the 300 block of Taylor Street.

The victim reported to the Kenner Police Department that she, Williams and another woman were visiting bars in the French Quarter when she passed out because she was intoxicated, according to trial evidence. She said she woke to find herself in the back seat of his car with him having intercourse with her.

She told him to stop, and she passed out again, only to realize Williams was performing oral sex on her, she testified. Williams eventually dropped her off at her home, where she passed out again. Hours later, she woke and went to the Kenner Police Department.

Before the rape occurred, Williams dropped the other woman off at her home. Williams admitted he attempted to have intercourse after performing oral sex, but he did not complete the act.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set the sentencing hearing for Feb. 19.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Convicted felon with firearm case

On Wednesday (Jan. 10), a separate jury found Russell K. Wilson guilty as charged of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Wilson, 36, of Algiers, was legally prohibited from carrying firearms because of a 2010 conviction of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Jefferson Parish.

Yet on June 28, 2017, two Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives, while on a proactive patrol in a high-crime area, smelled marijuana and observed several people loitering outside a closed business near 6th Avenue and Ames Boulevard in Marrero’s Walkertown neighborhood, according to trial testimony.

The detectives noticed Wilson handling his pants in a manner suggesting he had a firearm tucked in the waistband, according to trial evidence. One of the detectives approached Wilson and noted he placed the pistol on top of a tire in a wheel well of a nearby parked vehicle. It was a fully loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol with a bullet in the chamber, according to trial evidence.

In testimony, Wilson denied possessing the gun, suggesting that the detectives randomly sought to question him and planted the weapon. He acknowledged his criminal history, which includes narcotics offenses and a previous guilty plea to attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Wilson on Jan. 25.

Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.

New Orleans man on 4-state crime spree convicted of Kenner armed robbery

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday (Dec. 13) found a New Orleans man guilty of robbing a Kenner business, part of a crime spree in which he committed similar heists in four states during a three-month period in early 2014.

Steven J. Rodney, 34, was convicted as charged of the armed robbery of the Walmart at 300 West Esplanade Ave., on March 7, 2014.

About 8:30 p.m., Rodney approached a 25-year-old employee working at a check-out register, lifted his shirt to reveal a pistol and then pointed it at her before returning it to his pants waistband, according to the Kenner Police Department. He ordered the employee to escort him to near an exit, where he fled with about $1,500, according to trial evidence.

Rodney arrived in the area on a commercial flight from Las Vegas on March 5, 2014, according to trial evidence. The day after, on March 6, he is accused of robbing the American Apparel store in the 3300 block of Magazine Street in New Orleans. And then, on March 8, 2014, the day after the Kenner robbery, he returned by air to Las Vegas, according to trial evidence.

Kenner and New Orleans police detectives determined that the same suspect committed both crimes. With the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, police identified Rodney as the robber.

In all, between January 2014 and March 2014, Rodney robbed businesses in Colorado, California, Nevada and Kenner and New Orleans, traveling by commercial airlines between the locations to commit the crimes.

Rodney admitted to the Jefferson Parish jury that he committed the crimes to feed his addiction to Oxycodone. He denied using a dangerous weapon, asserting he used a toy gun that shoots rubber projectiles. As such, he asserted he was not guilty of armed robbery.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated about an hour before returning its verdict. Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Rodney on Jan. 8.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.