A Harvey teenager pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Friday (June 10), for his involvement in a homicide two years ago in which a 24-year old man was shot to death.
Raynell Whittaker, 19, will receive a 30-year prison sentence for the June 27, 2014 death of Demone Robinson, according to the plea agreement presented in court on Friday.
Robinson was shot multiple times and died in the 1000 block of Inca Drive, which is off Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey. According to court documents, Robinson was targeted as part of a plan to rob him. Whittaker and a co-defendant who is the accused shooter had been scheduled to stand trial next week on a charge of second-degree murder.
As part of the negotiated plea which requires Whittaker’s cooperation, prosecutors reduced the murder charge to manslaughter, which carries a maximum punishment of 40 years in prison. Whittaker also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess Xanax, for which he will receive a 2 ½-year sentence that will run concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.
Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court, who accepted Whittaker’s guilty pleas, scheduled the sentencing for July 18.
Everis Hilton, 18, of New Orleans, and Markeisha T. Lewis, 25, of Harvey, also are charged with second-degree murder in connection with Robinson’s death.
Second-degree murder carries a punishment of mandatory life in prison upon conviction. However, under a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Miller vs. Alabama, individuals who commit homicides before they reach age 18 cannot automatically be sentenced to life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.
At the time of Robinson’s death, Whittaker was 17 and Hilton was 16, but both were charged as adults.
At the time a Jefferson Parish grand jury handed up charges in Robinson’s homicide, Whittaker and Everis already were in state prison in connection with their guilty pleas to armed robbery in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
That crime happened sixteen days before Robinson was killed. Whittaker and Everis admitted they robbed a man of his cell phone in the 600 block of Third Street, in New Orleans’ Irish Channel. They currently are serving 10-year prison sentences for that crime.
In accepting the plea, Faulkner agreed to run Whittaker’s 30-year sentence currently with the 10-year sentence in the armed robbery case.
Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Truhe and Michael Smith are prosecuting the cases.