Carter convicted of attempted second degree murder by Pointe Coupee jury

Cassanova Carter was convicted on one count of attempted second degree murder of his uncle, Quincy Reed, by a Pointe Coupee Parish jury in 18th Judicial District Court today (Wednesday, July 12). He was also convicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.    

The jury returned the unanimous verdict after less than an hour of deliberation. Carter, 33, of 619 Martin Dr., New Roads, shot his uncle six times at his uncle’s home on April 4, 2021, and then fled the scene.  

The victim identified Carter as the shooter to first responders and to law enforcement just prior to being airlifted to Our Lady of Lake Hospital, where he remained for 10 days following the shooting. Carter was arrested three days after the shooting by the New Roads Police Department.  

The 3 day trial was prosecuted by District Attorney’s Office Chief of Trials Chad Aguillard, and Assistant District Attorneys Kristen Canazaro and Ali Meronek. District Judge Kevin Kimball presided over the trial. Carter was immediately remanded to the Pointe Coupee Parish detention center and sentencing was set for August 16, 2023. He had previously been convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.  

Aguillard said, “I am mindful of the difficulty this day brings to the entire Reed family as the victim and defendant were related in this case. However, the District Attorney’s office will not tolerate this type of violent behavior. The swiftness of the 52-minute verdict sends a clear message that the citizens of Pointe Coupee Parish also will not stand for this type of violence in their community.”  

In the last 2 and a half years, the District Attorney’s Office has successfully prosecuted 32 jury trials. In addition, trials and guilty pleas during that time period have resulted in 20 murder convictions, including 19 life sentences!  

“I have said from day one that we would go after violent criminals with the full force of our office, and would not back down from trying cases in court,” said District Attorney Tony Clayton. “The residents of our communities do not want violent offenders on the streets, and we will continue to prosecute them aggressively.”   “We all want to live in safe communities, and we are working hard in the District Attorney’s Office to lock these violent criminals away for as long as possible,” Clayton said. “I ask for the continued support of law enforcement, our parishes, and the residents to continue this fight.”

Jury takes only 8 minutes to issue guilty verdict in rape case

An 18th Judicial District Court jury deliberated only 8 minutes before finding a White Castle man guilty of first degree rape this evening (June 21).

Patrick Callegan, 59, of 37325 Lonestar Road, White Castle, was arrested for the rape of a 6-year-old girl on June 17, 2017. At the time, Callegan lived near where the child was living. Callegan initially admitted to certain aspects of the crime after having being identified by the child as the perpetrator of the offense to law enforcement and to medical personnel.

Callegan initially pleaded guilty to second degree rape, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and has been in jail since his arrest. However, a law change last year allowed him to change his plea to not guilty. From that point, District Attorney Tony Clayton and his team have vigorously pursued a tougher charge of first degree rape, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

The three-day trial began on Monday. The case was tried by Assistant District Attorney Chris Edwards, who credited the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office with doing excellent police work and providing the DA’s Office with extensive evidence.

“We called law enforcement as witnesses, and the victim was brave enough to testify in the trial,” said Assistant DA Edwards. “This very quick verdict was the result of a team effort and a very courageous little girl, who wanted to make sure Callegan never harms another person. Hopefully her courage will help other sexual crime victims come forward to law enforcement.”

“It was a very emotional trial, and very difficult on everyone, including the jury,” Edwards said. “We thank them for their service in this terrible crime against a child.”

District Attorney Tony Clayton said, “After the law changed where unanimous guilty verdicts are now required, it opened the door for those convicted to change their plea. I am telling these criminals that if they change their plea we are coming at them full force with the toughest charges possible, especially in cases like this. If they are going to put these victims through the torment of a trial, we are going after them and they will suffer the consequences. In this case, Callegan went from 30 years in prison to dying in prison.”

18th Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Engolio presided over the trial. She set sentencing for  July 31, 2023.

18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton’s Office gets two life sentences for child rapist

A West Baton Rouge jury took only 50 minutes to convict Tyrone M. Sajna of two counts of aggravated rape and one count of sexual battery on March 23, after a three-day trial.

Sajna is convicted of the aggravated rape of his step-son when the victim was 8 years old, and the aggravated rape and sexual battery of his step-daughter when the victim was 12 years old. During the trial, three other juvenile victims (both male and female) testified to being sexually assaulted by Sajna when they were between the ages of 8 and 13 years old in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Eighteenth Judicial District Court Judge Tonya Lurry set sentencing for Sajna, 52, of P.O. Box 86373, Baton Rouge, for April 24. Aggravated rape of a child under the age of 13 years carries a mandatory life sentence of prison without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Sajna will face two life terms in prison with these convictions.

The District Attorney’s Office prosecutors on the case included Lonny Guidroz, Julie Distefano and Brilliant Clayton.

“This case involved disgusting cases of abuse and violence against children that will not be tolerated,” said District Attorney Tony Clayton. “We will bring these cases to trial. We will get convictions, and we will seek the toughest sentence possible. In this case, Sajna will spend the rest of his life in prison, where he should be.”

Jackson convicted of murder in White Castle party shooting

Tyler Jackson has been found guilty of second-degree murder for a 2018 shooting during a party in White Castle, according to District Attorney Tony Clayton. An Iberville Parish jury reached the guilty verdict on Wednesday (Feb. 29) after a three-day trial.

Jackson and Thailan Raekwon “Monkey” Cutno, 21, 42032 Cannon Rd, Gonzales La 70737 were both at a party at the White Castle Community Center on April 7, 2018 when Jackson saw Cutno talk to a woman that he had been pursuing, went behind Cutno and hit him with the butt of his gun. When Cutno’s friends tried to defend him, Jackson shot Cutno twice. Jackson fled the scene, but was apprehended in Baton Rouge three days later.

Jackson was identified as the shooter in a photo line-up, and his cell phone text messages revealed messages that were incriminating, including one message sent by Jackson shortly after the murder stating, “Bruddha I got myself a soul.”

18th Judicial District Court Judge Batiste presided over the trial of Jackson, 24, of 55160 Boudreaux St., White Castle, La. The mandatory sentence for second degree murder is life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

“This is another case of senseless violence that impacted many people,” said District Attorney Clayton. “It will not be tolerated. We will get them convicted, and they will go to prison. I’ll say it again: put down the guns.”

Inmate found guilty of second-degree murder

It took a 12-member jury only 16 minutes to return with a guilty verdict of a state inmate who stabbed another inmate to death in 2021 at Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel. The jury trial was held in at the Iberville Parish Courthouse in Plaquemine on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the jury returning the verdict at about 4:40 pm Wednesday.

Ernest Governor was convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing Reynault Danos to death with a shank at about 2:30 am on March 29, 2021. The two men were housed together in the same unit of the prison, but not the same cell.

They got into an argument about the volume of the TV, and Danos went and unplugged the TV. Governor then armed himself with a shank knife, and Danos fled to his cell, shutting the cell door behind him. Governor jerked Danos’ cell door until he could get it open, and stabbed Danos in the heart, killing him. 

Governor then went put the shank down the shower drain, and it was never found. He then took a shower. Danos was discovered by a guard at about 5:20 am, but the attack was captured on prison cameras and was played for the jury.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory penalty of life in prison with no parole or probation. 18th Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Engolio, who presided over the trial, set sentencing for March 29.

Governor, age 62, was serving a prison term for aggravated battery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Danos was 43 when murdered. The prosecution was led by the District Attorney’s Office Chief of Trials Chad Aguillard and Assistant District Attorney Tim Collins. Also  on the prosecution team was Assistant District Attorney Ali Meronek.

District Attorney Tony Clayton said, “The tragedy of this case is that Mr. Governor was almost done with his sentence and was to be released in the not so distant future. Violence is not the answer. Now Mr. Governor will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Jury finds Hollins guilty of 2 counts of murder, other charges

A Pointe Coupee Parish jury found Morris J. Hollins guilty of killing two men and injuring another in a shooting that occurred on September 17, 2021 after a three-day jury trial, according to District Attorney Tony Clayton.

The jury trial began on Monday, Jan. 23, and the jury reached a unanimous verdict on Wednesday evening, Jan. 25. Hollins, 25, of 8760 Delta Place Road, New Roads, was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, one count of attempted second degree murder, aggravated criminal damage to property, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The three victims who were shot were members of Hollins’ family. The shooting occurred on September 17, 2021 at the family home on 8760 Delta Place Road in New Roads. Gerell Hollins was intoxicated and was arguing with family members. Morris Hollins responded by pulling out a gun and shooting Gerell Hollins nine times. He died at the scene.

As Morris Hollins was shooting, Howard Hollins was trying to run away and was shot in the back and killed. Gregory Hollins, the father of Gerell Hollins, was behind his son and was hit by a bullet in his hip. In addition, a bullet struck the home of a neighbor, Michael Porche.

Morris Hollins was arrested on September 20, 2021 on the charges and has been in jail since his arrest. He had previously been convicted on December 9, 2019 for illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities, and as a result of that conviction, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The prosecution was led by DA’s Office Chief of Trials Chad Aguillard, who was assisted by Assistant District Attorneys Ali Merenek, Kristen Canazardo and Nishart Bhushan.

“This was a very tragic case that involved the murder of two young men who were cousins of the defendant and the attempted murder of his uncle,” said Aguillard. “Our hearts go out to the Hollins family who is very torn by this case. However, we feel that justice was served this week and that the jury got it right.”

18th Judicial District Court Judge Kevin Kimball, who presided over the trial, has set post trial motions for March 8. Second degree murder convictions carry a sentence of life in prison without benefit of probation or parole.

Campbell found guilty in Raxx Bar murder

A  12-member jury unanimously found Ronald Dwayne Campbell guilty of second degree murder today in the shooting of Trey Allen, 21, outside the Raxx Bar in Erwinville, according to District Attorney Tony Clayton.

Clayton was lead prosecuting attorney in the trial in Eighteenth Judicial District Court in Port Allen. The jury deliberated only about an hour in returning the guilty verdict after the 3-day trial. Assistant District Attorney Lonny Guidroz prosecuted the case with Clayton.

District Judge Tonya Lurry set Campbell’s sentencing for November 21, but the second -degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence. His residence was listed as 5370 Lazard Lane in Jarreau, and he is 18 years old. Campbell was 17 at the time of the shooting, but he was transferred to adult court due to the severity of the crime.

This was the second time Campbell was tried on this charge. Judge Lurry declared a mistrial in the first trial in August because the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict, which is now required by state law.

Officials said Allen was trying to break up a fight outside the bar at about 1:30 am on September 18, 2021, when the shooting occurred. Raxx’s liquor license was revoked after the shooting for allegedly selling liquor to minors.

“This is another case in which gun violence ended a life and cost a young person his life, and has sadly impacted many families,” said DA Clayton. “We will not tolerate it. We will prosecute these cases with the full extent of the law. I am telling the young people – put the guns down. You will be arrested, you will be prosecuted fully, and you will go to jail.”

DA’s Office gets convictions in trial of St. Gabriel killings

Jaylon Brown was convicted of one count of second-degree murder in the killing of Dararius Evans and one count of manslaughter in the killing of Aleysia Maynor after a four-day jury trial in 18th Judicial District Court in Iberville Parish.

District Judge Elizabeth Engolio, presided over the trial, which began on October 3. The jury deliberated for a little over 5 hours on Thursday, October 6, before returning the guilty verdicts. Brown, 24, of 8276 Keel Avenue, Baton Rouge, was remanded back to jail to await sentencing. Second degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence and the sentence for manslaughter is up to 40 years in prison at hard labor. Sentencing is set for November 30.

The double homicide occurred on December 28, 2019, on LSU Ag. Road in St. Gabriel. The three had planned to meet there. They then drove to Gonzales and back, and Brown shot Evans and Maynor in the car at the scene. Evans called 911 after he was shot. He was hospitalized and died the next day. Maynor died at the scene.

Brown told investigators several different stories, and ended up saying it was self-defense, but the evidence did not match his story. Brown led detectives to a storm drain in Baton Rouge,  where he told them he threw the gun after the shootings.  

Assistant District Attorneys Chad Aguillard, Timmy Collins, and Ali Meronek prosecuted the case for the DA’s Office. “We will not tolerate these crimes and violence in the 18th District,” said District Attorney Tony Clayton. “I thank the jury for its attention and service in this case. We will go after the criminals and we will work hard to present the evidence to put them away.”

Larry West guilty of 2nd degree murder, attempted 2nd degree murder

An Iberville Parish jury found Larry West guilty of the murder of one man and attempted murder of another man after a 4-day trial Sept. 13-16. The crimes occurred after the Maringouin Mardi Gras Parade on Feb. 10, 2018.

West, 41, of 7603 Oakmount Dr., Baton Rouge, was found guilty of all three counts against him – second degree murder, attempted second degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Sentencing is set for November 3 by Judge Alvin Batiste, who presided over the trial. However, second degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison without benefit of probation or parole. The attempted second-degree murder conviction carries up to 50 years in prison, while the conviction on possession of the firearm carries an up to 20 year prison term.

District Attorney’s Office Chief of Trials Chad Aguillard prosecuted the case. West was in a Dodge Ram truck driven by Danny Smith when they first drove past a group of young men on Mayer Street. They came back down the street a short time later, stopped the car by the group, and West got out with a gun under his arm. He addressed Christopher Carter, Carter turned around and West shot him in the back of the head.

West also shot Torray Collins, who was hit in the leg. West then got back into the truck and he and Smith fled. Carter, who was 26 years old and a resident of Maringouin, died at the scene. Collins survived and testified against West in the trial. Another witness who saw the shootings also testified against West in the trial.

Danny Smith, who is charged as a principal to second degree murder and attempted second degree murder, also testified in the trial that West was with him at the scene, was armed and that he heard gunshots. The next court date for Smith, 61, of 77525 Pecan St., Maringouin, is November 7.

West had been convicted of possession of cocaine in 2015, so he was not allowed to be in possession of a firearm.

“There was great interest in this case by residents of Maringouin, especially the family and friends of Mr. Carter,” said Assistant DA Aguillard. “We are very happy that the jury got it right, and his family and friends can at least now have closure.”

“This case drug on because Mr. West kept changing lawyers, but we were determined to provide justice for this family,” said District Attorney Tony Clayton. “We will do what it takes to prosecute violent offenders and get them off the streets of our communities.”

Dionte Bracken convicted of second degree murder and attempted second degree murder

A 12-member jury in Iberville Parish deliberated for over three hours late into the night of May 12 and unanimously found Dionte Bracken (DOB 09/12/2000, of 57345 Cpl. Herman Brown, White Castle) guilty of one count of second degree murder and one count of attempted second degree murder.

According to District Attorney Tony Clayton, the victims, Jaion Knight and Deandre Brown, were sitting in Brown’s car when Bracken emerged from the darkness on August 20, 2020, opened the car door and started shooting, leaving very little opportunity for the victims to defend themselves. Knight was killed and Brown in injured in the shooting. Bracken was arrested the next day for the shootings.

Clayton commended the hard work of the jury in the three-day trial, saying, “They understood the case presented, and handed down justice for the families and the Bayou Goula community.”  

He also praised the investigative work on the case. “I commend the work of the Iberville, Ascension, and Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Offices, along with the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab. They did a great job working this case and finding all the evidence across all these parishes,” stated Clayton. 

Chad Aguillard, who is Clayton’s Chief of Trials, prosecuted this case along with Assistant District Attorneys Niki Roberts and Brilliant Clayton.  Honorable Judge Alvin Batiste, Jr. presided over the case and set sentencing for Bracken on July 7, 2022.

Second degree murder carries a mandatory life in prison sentence, while attempted second degree murder carries up to 50 years in prison. 

In closing, Clayton stated, “This senseless gun violence needs to stop and will not be tolerated in the 18th Judicial District. Put the guns down and work out your differences.”