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Houma man sentenced to life plus 40 years for killing Slidell man, burning his SUV

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (June 28) sentenced Terrance Calloway of Houma to life in prison plus 40 years, for his conviction of killing a Slidell man in Harvey during a robbery.

Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court also found Calloway in direct contempt of court and sentenced him to three months in jail, after Calloway repeatedly refused to obey the judge’s orders to stand to receive his sentence.

Calloway, 30, shot Cordaryle Robert in the face on June 25, 2016, and left him to die in drainage ditch in the 3600 block of Peters Road. Calloway then drove Robert’s 2003 Cadillac Escalade’s to a sugarcane field near Thibodaux, where he removed the tires and rims, doused the interior with gasoline and ignited it.

A Jefferson Parish jury on June 13 found Calloway guilty as charged of second-degree murder for killing Robert and obstruction of justice for taking and burning Robert’s vehicle in a sugarcane field near Thibodaux.

The father of four children, Robert was described in impact testimony as being a hard-working man who loved cars and horses – he belongs to a riding club.

“Cordaryle was a warm-hearted young man who worked to provide for his family,” his fiancé Jaleesa Lewis wrote to the court.

Robert was lured into the crime by Calloway’s wife, Dana Lemar, 25, also of Houma. She pleaded guilty on April 16 to manslaughter and received a 25-year prison sentence for her role in the crimes.

Pursuant to her plea agreement, Lemar testified that she met Robert through Facebook and eventually lured him to Boomtown Casino with a plan to rob him, having seen photos of with cash and expensive auto rims on his SUV, according to trial evidence.

In following Calloway’s plan, Lemar directed Robert to the 3600 block of Peters Road, where Robert was led to believe that Lemar’s aunt’s vehicle had broken down.

As Robert attempted to offer mechanical assistance, Calloway appeared from the darkness and shot him. Lemar testified she was unaware Calloway would kill Robert. A passing motorist spotted Robert’s body in the ditch four days later, according to trial evidence.

After denying defense motions for a new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal on Thursday, Judge Mentz sentenced Calloway to the mandatory life sentence for the murder and 40 years for the obstruction of justice. Judge Mentz ran the sentences consecutive.

After repeatedly refusing to stand for receive his sentence, Calloway stood only after his sister had an outburst in the audience. Noting that the woman spoke out in court and used foul language, Judge Mentz held the woman in direct contempt of court and ordered her to pay a $200 fine.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lindsay Truhe prosecuted the case.

Houma man convicted of killing Slidell man in Harvey, burning victim’s SUV in Lafourche Parish

A Jefferson Parish jury decided Wednesday evening (June 13) that Terrance Calloway is guilty of killing Cordaryle Robert, the Slidell man who was lured into a robbery by Calloway’s wife before he was shot in the face and left in a roadside drainage ditch in Harvey.

Calloway, 30, of Houma, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Robert, 27, who was killed on June 25, 2016. Calloway also was convicted of obstruction of justice, for taking Robert’s 2003 Cadillac Escalade from the murder scene and burning it in Lafourche Parish.

Calloway’s wife, Dana Lemar, 25, also of Houma, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 25-year prison sentence on April 16 in exchange for her cooperation. She testified she was unaware that her husband was going to kill Robert. “Our intention was to set him up and rob him,” Lemar testified Tuesday.

“Don’t let him walk out,” Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rushton, who prosecuted with Lindsay Truhe, told jurors in closing argument. “He committed that murder. He pulled the trigger.”

Robert unwittingly became a victim after communicating with Lemar through Facebook, according to evidence presented at trial. After exchanging messages, Robert met Lemar at Boomtown Casino, on Peters Road in Harvey.

Lemar testified that she and Calloway waited outside the casino for Robert to arrive. When he did, she and Robert drove in his vehicle around New Orleans, stopping twice in Gentilly. In following a plan that Calloway conceived, she told Robert she had to return to Boomtown because her aunt’s vehicle had broken down, she testified.

In the 3600 block of Peters Road, just north of the casino, they spotted Lemar’s vehicle parked on the shoulder with its hood up, she testified. Robert pulled his vehicle up to Lemar’s vehicle, got out and checked under her hood. That’s when Lemar said she heard the first of three gunshots and saw Robert’s body fall into the drainage ditch.

Calloway drove away in Robert’s vehicle while she drove her vehicle, first to St. Charles Parish where they purchased a gasoline can and gasoline. They eventually drove to a sugarcane field east of Thibodaux. There, Calloway removed the tires and rims from Robert’s vehicle, doused the interior with gas and set it on fire, Lemar testified.

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into the burned vehicle that same morning. Later, the Slidell Police Department opened a missing persons investigation in connection with Robert’s disappearance.

Four days after Robert was killed, a passer-by spotted his decomposing body in the drainage ditch. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office began the homicide investigation.

By that point, Lafourche Parish detectives already identified Robert’s vehicle and, with the help of the Houma Police Department, uncovered evidence linking Calloway and Lemar to the vehicle, according to trial testimony.

Calloway and Lemar were located in their mobile home in a Houma trailer park on the day Robert’s body was located. Inside the trailer, detectives found Robert’s property, including a car audio amplifier and a floor jack, according to testimony. Calloway and Lemar were arrested for Robert’s homicide that day.

The JPSO later found Calloway’s DNA on a shirt at Robert’s burned vehicle, according to trial evidence.

Using witness statements, cell phone data, and the Automated License Plate Reader system, authorities determined that Robert was killed about 3:15 a.m., JPSO Detective Donald Zanotelli testified.

The data also corroborated Lemar’s testimony of what transpired that morning, providing detectives with a timeline that shows the suspects’ travels through Gentilly and between Harvey and their home in Houma, according to a multimedia presentation prosecutors showed to jurors.

Calloway denied involvement in the crime. His attorney told jurors that Lemar lied to detectives in implicating Calloway.

The Jefferson Parish jury that was seated on Monday deliberated about 40 minutes. Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Calloway on June 26.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lindsay Truhe prosecuted the case.