A Jefferson Parish jury on Wednesday night (Jan. 25) found a pair of maternal half-brothers guilty as charged of killing a distant relative amid a feud.
Willie Battle, 31, and Eddie Salvant, 37, both of whom lived with their mother in unincorporated Gretna, were convicted of second-degree murder in the Nov. 22, 2017 death of Everette Burns.
On the day before Thanksgiving 2017, Burns was shot once in the abdomen about 4:40 p.m., just moments after getting a haircut at a barber shop in strip mall in the 400 block of Lapalco Boulevard. Burns was walking to a nearby ATM machine to withdraw cash so he could pay the barber when he was shot.
Mortally wounded, the 34-year-old Belle Chasse resident walked to his car in the parking lot and sat in the driver’s seat. Another customer at the barber shop, a former Navy corpsman, rendered aid to the profusely bleeding Burns. Instead of waiting for an ambulance to arrive, the Navy veteran rushed Burns to a nearby hospital by driving Burns’ car.
Burns died later that day at a New Orleans hospital, to where he was transferred.
Even before he died, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office received information indicating that Battle and Salvant thought that Burns was responsible for a prior shooting that occurred less than two weeks earlier.
Detectives obtained video surveillance from a nearby business and witnesses’ statements, all showing that two hooded men lingered in the parking lot for several minutes before confronting Burns in front of the strip mall. The suspects took steps to conceal their faces.
Video images show and witnesses described one of the suspects being large and the other being shorter. Battle stands 6’3” tall and weighs 350 pounds. Salvant is 5’5” and weighs 165 pounds.
A witness saw one of the men armed with a pistol moments before the shooting. Immediately after the shooting, a man matching Salvant’s physique ran toward Bannerwood Drive while holding a pistol in his right hand while another man matching Battle’s physique walked away calmly, a video shows.
Less than two weeks before Burns was murdered, the Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of gunfire in the block where Battle and Salvant lived but found nothing. The following morning, Battle contacted the Sheriff’s Office saying that someone shot up his car as it was parked in his driveway. He alleged he was asleep when it happened.
However, during the ensuing investigation, a deputy viewed video recorded by a nearby home’s surveillance system. The deputy learned that Battle, in fact, was sitting in the driver’s seat of his car when a lone gunman walked up and opened fire. He was not injured. Questioned about the video, Battle then said he did not know who shot at him.
A detective also retrieved surveillance video from a home near where Battle and Salvant lived – a 3-minute drive from the shooting scene. It showed that about 30 minutes before Burns was shot, two men matching Battle and Salvant’s physiques walked out of their home wearing clothing like that worn by the gunmen, got into their car and departed. They returned to the home after Burns was shot.
Detectives separately learned that Burns arrived at the barber shop about 30 minutes before he was shot.
Detectives also retrieved text messages between a woman and a person using a phone tied to Salvant. The messages suggest Salvant thought Burns was the person who shot at Battle as he sat in his car, and that they would seek revenge.
Questioned by a detective, the half-brothers’ mother said her sons had not been home since Nov. 22, 2017, the day of the shooting.
The U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force located and arrested Battle in Florida on Dec. 11, 2017. Task force officers located and arrested Salvant the following day in Harvey.
At trial, their attorneys argued the evidence was not strong enough for jurors to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants were guilty.
The jury deliberated less than 50 minutes in finding Battle and Salvant guilty. Salvant also was convicted of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was barred from possessing guns because of a 2011 conviction of possession of cocaine.
Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence the half-brothers on Wednesday (Feb. 1).
Assistant District Attorneys Shannon Swaim, Kristen Landrieu and Taylor Somerville prosecuted the case.