Teddy Chester sentenced to life in ’95 cabbie murder

A Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday (Dec. 12) sentenced Teddy Chester to life in prison for shooting a cab driver in the back of his head during an armed robbery attempt.

Chester, 41, was convicted as charged during his retrial last month of second-degree murder in the Dec. 27, 1995 death of John Adams, 34, a driver for a Kenner-based taxi cab company who died after being dispatched to Calhoun Street.

“It took 20 seconds to take his life,” Bonnie James, fiancée of Mr. Adams’ brother, said in impact testimony Wednesday. “Our family was changed forever.”

In 1997, Chester was convicted of first-degree murder and spent 22 years on Louisiana’s death row until a federal judge this year ruled that his original attorney committed several errors during the first trial, depriving him of his constitutional right to effective representation. The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office opted to retry Chester for second-degree murder.

After denying defense motions for a new trial, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Chester to the mandatory life sentence in prison without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. “To the family of Mr. Adams, I am very sorry for your loss,” Judge Kovach said in handing down the sentence.

Chester’s co-defendant, Elbert Ratcliff, is serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the murder.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.