Tag: kenner police department

Marital infidelity, a Kenner hookup and a kidnapping lead to prison for a North Carolina couple

A Jefferson Parish judge has sentenced Mishanda Reed to 11 years for prison for her involvement in the kidnapping of her extramarital lover in Kenner, a week after her husband Malcom Reed was sentenced to 13 years for the same crime.

Malcom Reed, 42, and Mishanda Reed, 45, both of Durham, N.C., were convicted of second-degree kidnapping and attempted second-degree kidnapping, respectively, by a Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 28.

Mishanda Reed and the victim, now age 47 and living in Houston, Texas, attended Xavier University in New Orleans together in 1995 and dated for about five years. They had had a sexual encounter in recent years, after she was married.

In 2021, they communicated, and she told the victim – falsely – that she was divorced. On June 27, 2021, after the victim traveled to the New Orleans area to meet her, he drove to an airbnb that she rented with her credit card in the 1300 block of Lloyd Price Avenue in Kenner.

Inside, the victim walked to an upper-level loft. There, the victim said, Malcom Reed suddenly appeared, carrying a silver semiautomatic pistol in his left hand and an aluminum bat in the other. He ordered the victim to get on his knees. When the victim refused, Malcom Reed beat him with the bat.

Malcom Reed ordered Mishanda Reed to retrieve zip-ties, which he had in a bag. She did, and she used them to bind the victim at the wrists and ankles.

Malcom Reed then got the password to the victim’s cell phone and scrolled through the text messages between the victim and Mishanda Reed. Malcom Reed interrogated the victim about his intentions with his wife. Malcom Reed also pointed the pistol at the victim and threatened to kill him. Malcom Reed also cut the victim’s face during the interrogation.

Several hours later, the Reeds left the airbnb in separate cars, taking the victim with them. The Reeds removed the zip-ties from the victim’s wrists and ankles and left him in the 300 block of Alliance Street. The Reeds then drove to North Carolina.

A bystander saw the victim bleeding in the street and called 911. The Kenner Police Department arrived soon after, and the victim was rushed to a hospital for injuries that included a broken leg.

Police officers who searched the airbnb found blood spattered on the stair railing, a mirror, bed sheets, a door and elsewhere. Detectives identified the Reeds and obtained arrest warrants. The Reeds surrendered on Aug. 1, 2021.

The couple additionally was charged with aggravated battery. But jurors convicted Malcom Reed of the lesser misdemeanor charge of simple battery and acquitted Mishanda Reed of that crime altogether. Malcom Reed was sentenced to six months in jail for that offense.

Although the Reeds were tried and convicted together, they were sentenced separately.

During Malcom Reed’s sentencing hearing on Oct. 13, he expressed remorse but minimized his involvement by telling the court that he learned only that day that his wife was having an affair. He said he hid outside the Airbnb for 1 ½ hours and then, armed with the bat, confronted the victim inside. He said he was defending himself when explaining why he struck the victim with the bat.

The victim, in victim-impact testimony on Oct. 13, described the entire incident as “a premediated ambush” that included Mishanda Reed’s participation. He said he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome because of the kidnapping and beating he received.

On Friday (Oct. 20), Mishanda Reed testified during her request for a new trial, presenting herself as a victim as well and saying she was not a willing participant in the kidnapping because she was frightened of her husband. From the witness stand and with her husband looking on, she admitted being an adulterous wife but asserted she loves both men. Mishanda Reed also complained that her trial lawyer, whom she has fired since she was convicted, steered her away from testifying.

In rejecting the new-trial request, Judge Shayna Beevers Morvant of the 24th Judicial District Court described Mishanda Reed’s testimony given Friday as “theatrical and full of hysteria.” Judge Beevers Morvant said Mishanda Reed had numerous opportunities to flee from her husband if she was, in fact, not a willing participant in the crime.

“I do not think she wants to face liability for the jury’s verdict,” the judge said in denying the new-trial motion.

Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Whitworth and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.

Convicted of sexually abusing juveniles, Elias Abrego Zambrano faces life in prison

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday evening (Oct. 19) found Elias Abrego Zambrano guilty of sexually abusing two children.

Zambrano, 54, was convicted as charged of first-degree rape of a juvenile under age 13, two counts of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13 and two counts of indecent behavior with juveniles under age 13.

The crimes occurred in Kenner beginning as early as 2012 and September 2017. The crimes were first reported to the Kenner Police Department in March 2020 when the victims were ages 13 and 19.

Zambrano was a friend of the victims’ family. He denied victimizing the children.

The jury deliberated for about two hours before returning with its unanimous verdicts. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Zambrano on Oct. 26. First-degree rape carries a mandatory life sentence in prison without probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Carolyn Chkautovich and Blaine Moncrief prosecuted the case.

For shooting a man in the back in Kenner, Shyheem Love convicted of attempted murder, other crimes

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (Oct 3) convicted Shyheem Love of shooting a 61-year-old man in the back when he was criminally barred from possessing guns, and then from the parish jail tried to concoct a scheme to pay the victim $5,000 to recant.

Love, 28, of LaPlace, is guilty as charged of attempted second-degree murder, simple criminal damage of property and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, jurors decided. He additionally was convicted of attempted obstruction of justice.

The shooting happened Dec. 22, 2021, in the 1600 block of Newport Place in Kenner, just outside Love’s girlfriend’s apartment. She had just been released from the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna and needed a ride to Kenner. A 61-year-old family friend with whom she had had sexual encounters in the past gave her that ride in his work van. He had taken with him her three young children to get their mother from the jail.

Outside her apartment, the woman was retrieving her children from the man’s work van to bring them inside. That’s when the man noticed Love standing nearby.

Love asked to speak with the man. He then asked the man to exit his van. The man refused. Love then fired three or four bullets at the van. The man sped away to his home in the 3600 block of Loyola Drive in Kenner. Once home, he noticed his back was wet with his own blood. The Kenner Police Department was notified.

After the man was treated and released from a hospital, he identified Love as the shooter by selecting his image in a photographic lineup. The man was familiar with Love but knew him only by his first name.

Love was arrested. While awaiting trial in the parish jail in Gretna, Love made numerous phone calls to his father and to his girlfriend. Knowing that the phone calls are recorded, he nonetheless made efforts to buy the victim’s silence through a $5,000 payoff. Love attempted to conceal his scheme through referring to it as “playing Monopoly,” a reference to the board game.

Love was convicted of attempted second-degree murder for shooting the victim; simple criminal damage to property valued at between $1,000 and $50,000 for damaging the victim’s work van with the bullets; and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm (he was convicted in 2015 of second-degree battery in St. John the Baptist Parish). Love was charged with obstruction of justice for his scheme to get the victim to recant, but jurors returned with the verdict of attempted obstruction of justice.

The jury that was seated on Monday deliberated about 1 ½ hours before returning with its verdicts about 7 p.m., Tuesday. Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Love on Nov. 2.

Assistant District Attorneys Leo Aaron and Molly Love prosecuted the case.

Lamonte Loggins convicted of murdering Kenner store clerk during armed robbery

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday evening (July 26) convicted Lamonte Loggins of standing over a helpless convenience store clerk during an armed robbery in Kenner and firing a 9mm bullet into his chest, killing him.

Loggins, 30, of Kenner, is guilty as charged of the first-degree murder of Abd El Ghader Sylla, 30. Sylla, whose wife was pregnant with their child, was working the overnight shift at the business at Williams Boulevard and West Esplanade Avenue when Loggins shot him.

Mortally wounded, Sylla still was able to call 911, saying he was “about to die.”

“I got shot. I got robbed, and I got shot,” he told the 911 operator before dropping the phone. He died from his injury soon after at a New Orleans hospital.

Loggins and his older brother, Eric Rodgers, planned the armed robbery and cased the business hours earlier. About 2 a.m., on Nov. 30, 2020, Rodgers entered the store, followed by Loggins. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they wore masks.

After pouring a cup of coffee and discussing liquor with Sylla, Loggins brandished a 9mm pistol and demanded cash. As he pulled out the pistol, a latex glove fell out of his pocket – Loggins’ DNA later was found on that glove.

Sylla dropped to his knees and held his hands over his head as he complied with Loggins’ demands. Sylla opened the register and removed the cash drawer so Loggins could get the money.

Without being provoked, Loggins then walked around the counter and began beating Sylla in the head with the pistol. Sylla fell onto his back as the beating continued. Loggins stood back and fired the bullet into Sylla’s chest, even as the victim pleadingly held his hands in the air in front of him.

Loggins and Rodgers fled to their car parked blocks away, as Sylla, still on his back on the floor behind the counter, called 911. He remained there until Kenner Police Department officers arrived.

During the ensuing investigation, Kenner Police Department detectives used numerous businesses’ and residences’ video surveillance cameras to track the suspects’ movement from the crime scene to the Lorie Drive apartment complex where both men lived.

But Loggins and Rodgers had gone to Biloxi, Miss., where they spent a night in a hotel and where Loggins threw the pistol into a business’s garbage receptacle. The following day, they caught bus to Memphis, Tenn., where they previously lived.

More than a week later, Rodgers called the Kenner Police Department. He told the lead case detective, Aaron Savoie, that Loggins killed Sylla. Federal marshals and local police arrested Loggins in Memphis on Dec. 8, 2020.

Rodgers, 32, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2022 to manslaughter, obstruction of justice and armed robbery for his role in the crime. He received a 40-year sentence.

On Tuesday, as part of a plea agreement, Rodgers testified that he and Loggins planned the robbery, and that he was a participant because his government unemployment assistance hadn’t been credited to his debit card. But Rodgers testified that he did not know Loggins was going to shoot the clerk.

Under cross-examination by Loggins’ public defender, Rodgers was accused of urging Loggins to shoot Sylla. Rodgers, who has distinctive tattoos on his forehead and hands, was a regular customer at the business and could be easily identified, Loggins’ attorney argued. The defense attorney also argued that the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the gunshot killed Sylla, suggesting that  the medical treatment the victim received at the hospital could have caused his death.

The jury deliberated about an hour before returning with its verdicts. In addition to first-degree murder, jurors found Loggins guilty as charged of obstruction of justice, for tossing the murder weapon in a business’s garbage receptacle in Biloxi. Loggins also tossed the bullets from that pistol in a drainage canal in Kenner before he and Rodgers fled the state.

Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Loggins Aug. 9.

Assistant District Attorneys Carolyn Chkautovich and Brittany Beckner prosecuted the case.


Viusqui Perez-Espinosa sentenced, again, to life in prison for Kenner murder, dismemberment

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (Feb. 9) sentenced Viusqui Perez-Espinosa to life in prison for murdering his rival in a Kenner love triangle before cutting up the body and dumping the parts in a St. John the Baptist Parish swamp.

Perez, 50, was convicted as charged last week of the second-degree murder of Ives Alexis Portales-Lara.  Portales was last seen alive on the evening of Jan. 11, 2016, in the Baylor Place apartment complex he shared with a woman and her ex-boyfriend, Perez.

Portales, who moved to the New Orleans area to be near his young daughter, was a native of Honduras and was 28.

Perez was convicted of the murder and of obstruction of justice in 2018. But the jury in that trial returned with a non-unanimous verdict on the murder count. Perez received a new trial for the murder, only, in 2020, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ramos vs. Louisiana that non-unanimous verdicts are unconstitutional.

The second jury seated to weigh the murder charge deliberated about four hours before returning with its unanimous guilty verdict on Jan. 31.

Perez and Portales were friends and coworkers whose commonality extended to a woman. Perez was sexually involved with her, but that relationship ended after she needed medical care that took her out of the United States briefly and he became involved with another woman.

Portales moved into the apartment with Perez’s ex, and that arrangement evolved into a sexual relationship. Perez, who temporarily moved back into the apartment, learned of the relationship and wanted to end it. On the morning of Jan. 11, 2016, Perez sexually assaulted the woman in the apartment after Portales departed to work. He returned to the apartment that evening and was never seen again.

The following month, a fisherman found the right arm in the Reserve Canal off Interstate 10, just west of LaPlace. The torso and leg parts were found by pipeline workers in the area the following week. The remaining body parts were never located.

DNA was used to confirm the parts were Portales’, leading to Perez’s indictment and convictions. At trial, he asserted self-defense.

Following the first trial, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Perez to the 40-year maximum for obstruction of justice, for his attempts to conceal the murder. The jury was unanimous on that charge, and his conviction remained intact. The life sentence she gave him in 2018 was overturned due to the Ramos decision.

On Thursday, Judge Kovach denied the defense’s motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and for a new trial. After hearing impact statements written by Portales’ family in Honduras, Judge Kovach sentenced Perez to the mandatory punishment of life in prison, without suspension of sentence, parole or probation, for killing Portales.

Judge Kovach ran the life sentence consecutive to the 40-year sentence she gave him in 2018 for obstruction of justice, and consecutive to the 6-month jail sentence she gave Perez last week in holding him in contempt for his lashing out at a prosecutor during her cross-examination.

Judge Kovach further denied a defense motion to reconsider the sentence, saying “the facts and circumstances of this case are particularly egregious.”

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.

In ‘Ramos’ retrial, Kenner man convicted anew of murdering, dismembering rival in love triangle

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (Jan. 31) found Viusqui Perez-Espinosa guilty of killing his rival for the affections of a woman in Kenner. After killing Ives Alexis Portales-Lara, Perez disarticulated the body and dumped the parts in a St. John the Baptist swamp in 2016.

Perez, 50, a native of Cuba and a former butcher, was convicted as charged of second-degree murder, jurors unanimously decided during almost four hours of deliberations.

This brings to two the number of times he’s been convicted of killing Portales, 28. A non-unanimous jury found him guilty in March 2018, and he was sentenced to mandatory life in prison.

However, in its April 2020 Ramos vs. Louisiana decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that non-unanimous jury verdicts are unconstitutional. As a result, Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeal in September 2020 ordered that Perez would be retried for the second-degree murder.

Perez also was convicted in his 2018 trial of obstruction of justice for disposing Portales’ remains and cleaning the crime scene to cover up his crime. That jury was unanimous on that count. He is serving a 40-year sentence for that crime.

Perez and Portales were friends and co-workers who were romantically involved with the same woman, albeit at different times. Perez was first involved with the woman before their 18-month relationship ended in September 2016. Portales’ secret relationship with her began soon after he moved into the Baylor Place apartment with her.

Perez wanted to rekindle the relationship and wanted Portales out of the picture. Three days before the murder, Perez moved in with Portales and the woman. He offered Portales money to move out. Portales declined.

On the morning of Nov. 11, 2016, Perez sexually assaulted the woman after Portales left for work. Portales was last seen alive that afternoon when he returned to the apartment from his job.

The Kenner Police Department opened a missing persons investigation soon after. When questioned, Perez repeatedly denied knowing of Portales’ whereabouts. An officer noticed blood on the sofa, leading police to obtain a search warrant. Perez, meanwhile, was arrested on suspicion of raping the woman.

Using chemicals and a special light, Kenner police found evidence of a large amount of blood on the floor that had been recently cleaned. The police also found evidence of blood spatter on the walls, a plant and on the sofa, and on a jacket in the trunk of Perez’s car.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Crime Lab used DNA analysis to determine that the blood in the apartment and on the jacket belonged to Portales. Analysts accomplished this by matching his genetic material recovered from his personal items in the apartment to that of his daughter.

The investigation expanded to include the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office in late December 2016, when dismembered human remains were discovered in the Reserve Canal off Interstate 10.

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office DNA analyst then confirmed the body parts belonged to Portales. Perez was then booked with his murder.

Police recovered numerous text messages Perez sent to others in which he used derogatory terms to describe Portales and his anger over his rival continuing to live in the apartment.

Testifying Tuesday, Perez denied sexually assaulting the woman. He told jurors that on the evening of Nov. 11, 2016, Portales attacked him with a knife. During the struggle that followed, Perez alleged, the knife cut Portales’ neck, and he bled to death.

Pressed by a prosecutor during cross-examination to describe what he did to the body, Perez cried and in Spanish called her a “torturer” and “a Nazi.” For that, Perez was held in contempt of court and was sentenced to six months in jail.

Although Perez described a violent struggle, a neighbor in the adjacent apartment described only hearing the vent hood motor whirring above Perez’s stovetop for several hours. The neighbor then noted the smell of bleach emanating from next door.

The jury returned with his guilty verdict just before 11 p.m., ending the 7-day-long trial. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Perez on Feb. 9.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Richard Olivier prosecuted the case.


Kenner teen sentenced to life with parole eligibility for kidnapping elderly couple

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Nov. 9) sentenced Alexsy Mejia to life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years for his conviction of kidnapping an elderly couple from their Metairie home.

Mejia, 18, of Kenner, also was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his conviction of aggravated burglary, a crime that preceded his forcing the 91-year-old man and 81-year-old woman to drive him to their Kenner bank at gunpoint.

Mejia was 16 years old at the time of the crimes and was charged and prosecuted as an adult. He knew the victims because they paid him to occasionally do yard work for them.

On the afternoon of July 9, 2021, Mejia armed himself with a .38-caliber revolver, concealed his identity by wearing a mask and broke into the couple’s home through a bathroom window. He demanded the couple give him $100,000 so he could purchase a car.

Because the couple had no cash in the home, Mejia forced them at gunpoint to drive to their bank in Kenner in the 3500 block of Williams Boulevard. From the back seat, he pointed the pistol at the 91-year-old man’s head during the drive.

Once at the bank, the couple convinced Mejia that they both needed to go inside to obtain the money. Mejia told them he had an accomplice who would blow up their house if they called police. Once inside, the couple alerted the bank branch manager, who called police.

As the first Kenner police officers arrived, Mejia fled on foot. After a brief pursuit, Mejia was arrested blocks away, hiding in a garbage can behind a residence in the 3600 block of Martinique Avenue. Mejia later confessed to committing the crimes to Jefferson Parish detectives.

A Jefferson Parish jury on Oct. 26, deliberated about 40 minutes in unanimously convicting Mejia as charged of two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary.

In written impact testimony read aloud by a prosecutor during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, the couple wrote they trusted Mejia and paid him to do household jobs for them. They’ve since forgiven him and “hope that he can move on in a positive way” with his life, the couple wrote.

Life in prison is the mandatory punishment for aggravated kidnapping under Louisiana law. Because he was a juvenile at the time he committed the crimes, Mejia will be eligible to apply for parole in 25 years.

Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court ordered the sentences, including the 30-year sentence for aggravated burglary, to be served without parole, probation or suspension of sentence. He also ordered that the sentenced be run concurrently.

Additionally, Judge Brindisi issued a protective order that bars Mejia from contacting the couple for life.

Assistant District Attorneys Kristen Landrieu and Carolyn Chkautovich prosecuted the case.


Kenner teen convicted of kidnapping elderly Metairie couple

A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 26) found Alexsy Mejia guilty of entering an elderly Metairie couple’s home to rob them and then forcing them to drive to a Kenner bank to withdraw money.

Mejia, of Kenner, who was 16 years old when he committed the crimes, was convicted as charged of two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary. He was prosecuted as an adult and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years.

On the afternoon of July 9, 2021, Mejia, concealing his identity by wearing a mask, entered the couple’s Elmwood Parkway home armed with a .38-caliber revolver. He knew the couple, ages 91 and 81, because he had done yard work for them in the past.

He broke into the couple’s home through a rear bathroom window, encountered the 81-year-old woman in their bedroom and threatened to kill her 91-year-old husband if she called out.  He initially demanded they give him $100,000, an amount he reduced as the couple told him they had no cash in the home.

After being told they had no cash in the home, Mejia forced the couple to drive him to their bank branch in the 3500 block of Williams Boulevard. Sitting in the back seat, he repeatedly held the pistol at the man’s head while his wife drove.

At the bank, he demanded that the woman enter to get the cash while the man wait with him in the car. She told him they could not get the cash unless they both signed for it. Mejia agreed to let the couple enter the bank but alleged he had an accomplice who would blow up their house with them in it if they called police.

While Mejia waited in their car, the couple went inside and alerted the branch manager about what happened. The manager called 911. When Kenner police arrived, Mejia fled on foot. Officers gave chase and found Mejia hiding in a garbage can behind a home in the 3600 block of Martinique Avenue.

In his interview by Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives, Mejia confessed, saying he targeted the couple because of their age and that he wanted money with which to purchase a car. At trial, his lawyers argued that the police arrested the wrong suspect, and that the detectives obtained the statement improperly.

The jury deliberated about 40 minutes before returning with its unanimous verdicts. Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Mejia on Nov. 9.

Assistant District Attorneys Kristen Landrieu and Carolyn Chkautovich 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.

Kenner man faces life in prison for 2018 murder

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday night (Oct. 21) found Lanard Lavigne guilty as charged of the second-degree murder of Kerwin Conner in their Kenner neighborhood.

Lavigne, 25, also was convicted as charged of aggravated criminal damage to property, for the damage his 9mm bullets caused to occupied apartments as he chased Conner during the March 14, 2018 crime.

Although armed with a revolver, Conner, 36, fled for his life, running 175 yards in the 300 block of Clemson Drive as Lavigne pursued him, according to evidence presented to jurors. In all, Lavigne fired 14 bullets at the fleeing Conner.

Conner ran to the safety of his apartment, where his wife and 9-year-old daughter were inside. As Conner stood at the front door, Lavigne fired four bullets. Projectiles struck Connor’s thighs, severing his left and right femoral arteries and causing him to bleed to death, according to trial evidence.

“In fact, he thought so little about taking that life that he complained about it messing up his plans to get a GED” during his interrogation by Kenner Police Detective Nicholas Engler, Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rushton told jurors in closing argument. “It’s disgusting.”

The killing originated with a dispute that occurred minutes earlier. Conner and another man were outside on Clemson Drive when one of them apparently cat-called Lavigne’s girlfriend as she walked by, according to evidence presented at trial.

Lavigne, who was armed with his pistol, later confronted the men, leading Conner to run to his nearby apartment to retrieve a pistol. He returned to the scene of the confrontation, but there was no evidence that he threatened Lavigne.

Much of the entire incident was recorded by residential security cameras. Following the murder, Lavigne fled to Houma, where he was arrested by a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force in October 2018.

Lavigne’s attorney argued that it was a justifiable homicide, in that his client was defending himself. As such, he urged jurors to acquit Lavigne of second-degree murder or, in the alternative, to find his client guilty of manslaughter.

Although he armed himself with a pistol, Conner was not the aggressor, and there was no evidence showing that he fired at Lavigne or even pointed it at him, prosecutors argued. Further, he fled for his life and sought the safety of his home. “That threat is over,” Rushton argued. “There’s no imminent danger.”

Connor’s pistol was never recovered, meaning an unknown person committed a felony obstruction of justice for the act, prosecutors told jurors.

Just before jury selection began on Monday, Lavigne pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. He admitted to removing his pistol from the scene.

Jurors deliberated about 4 ½ hours before returning their verdicts at 7:15 p.m. Judge June Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Lavigne on Dec. 6. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of mandatory life in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case with ADA Rushton.

With the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affecting governmental actions this year, Lavigne’s was the 20th jury trial in Jefferson Parish’s 24th Judicial District Court so far in 2021.

It also was the second homicide case that was resolved during the week. On Tuesday (Oct. 19), Alex Travers Sanders, 42, of Kenner, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 40 years in prison by Judge Scott Schlegel. Averting his trial for second-degree murder that was scheduled to begin last week, he admitted to fatally beating his girlfriend, Amy Cancienne, 37, on Nov. 12, 2017.

Assistant District Attorney Kellie Rish prosecuted Sanders.