A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday night (May 10) found Torus “T-Man” Wallace guilty of manslaughter for killing a Metairie man struggling with substance abuse over a $35 drug debt.
Wallace, 24, of Metairie, killed Rene Rachel, 32, as he sat in his vehicle in the 500 block of North Elm Street, waiting for an intermediary to deliver “MOJO,” a street name for synthetic marijuana.
Wallace also was convicted as charged of obstruction of justice for removing the .45-caliber pistol he used to kill Rachel from the scene.
Just after 6 p.m., on March 29, 2020, Rachel, who struggled with addiction, traveled from his Metairie home to the neighborhood near Airline Drive and David Drive to purchase narcotics. As he entered the neighborhood, he picked up the intermediary who would acquire the synthetic marijuana for him.
As Rachel waited, Wallace appeared on a bicycle and inquired about drugs and the debt. When Rachel rebuffed him, Wallace brandished the pistol and fired once through the passenger side window. The bullet went through Rachel’s right forearm and struck him in the upper chest. He died shortly after in the parking lot of a business at Airline Drive and David Drive.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office received a tip from a source indicating that “T-Man” was the killer. The Sheriff’s Office knew T-Man to be Wallace. Wallace was identified as the shooter by an eyewitness.
Jurors also heard testimony showing that four days before the shooting, Rachel went to the same neighborhood to acquire illegal narcotics and encountered Wallace. Wallace threatened to kill Rachel unless he paid the $35 drug debt.
Through his attorneys, Wallace denied shooting Rachel. His attorneys argued there was no credible evidence linking him to the crime.
Wallace was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a punishment of life in prison without parole, probation or suspension of sentence. The jury that was seated on Monday deliberated three hours before returning the lesser offense.
Judge Michael Mentz of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Wallace on May 26.
Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Sanderson and John Ransone prosecuted the case.