A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Oct. 30) sentenced Dennis Sheppard to life in prison for killing his girlfriend by tightening a zip tie around her neck and suffocating her.
Sheppard, 60, of Harvey, killed Jyra Holmes on Nov. 2, 2020, during a domestic dispute outside her apartment in the 1500 block of Chelsea Road in Harvey. After pulling the zip tie tightly, Sheppard pushed Holmes to the ground in full view of witnesses.
“She wanted me dead; now she’s dead,” Sheppard said as he killed her. A U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force arrested Sheppard three days later in Bay St. Louis, Miss.
A Jefferson Parish jury on Sept. 28 deliberated just over one-half hour in convicting Sheppard as charged of second-degree murder. Life in prison with no probation, parole or suspension of sentence is the mandatory punishment for the crime in Louisiana.
On Monday, Holmes’ twin sister provided victim-impact testimony, describing Sheppard’s behavior as “an evil act,” and saying, “I hope the only mercy you get for the rest of your life is the mercy you showed my sister.”
After denying defense motions for a new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal, Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District Court noted how Sheppard fled the state after killing Holmes.
“She had a full life ahead of her; she was very young,” Judge Darensburg said. “To take someone’s life, I would have to agree with the impact testimony: It was an evil act.”
Assistant District Attorneys Kristen Landrieu and Carolyn Chkautovich prosecuted the case.