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.”

Two men convicted of murder, feticide by Pointe Coupee jury

An 18th Judicial District Court jury in Pointe Coupee returned guilty verdicts on April 8  in the trial of two men for a deadly Valentine’s Day shooting in 2019 that killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

Treveon Robinson, 22, of 2022 Lobdell Hwy., Port Allen, was found guilty of second degree murder, first degree feticide, attempted second degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Andre Griffin, 24, also of Port Allen, was found guilty of second degree murder, first degree feticide, and attempted second degree murder. Both men face life in prison.

Aerial Edwards, 25, of Glynn, and her unborn child, were killed in the murders. “It’s sad that this little boy never had an opportunity to live life and be a part of the Edwards family, but by serving justice on the people that killed that little baby boy and his mama, we’re able to provide some sort of closure to that family,” said Assistant District Attorney Chad Aguillard. “I pray that they can now move on and put this chapter of their lives behind them.”

The trial lasted two weeks, and the jury deliberated two hours before returning the guilty verdicts. District Judge Kevin Kimball presided over the trial.

“These young folks who have chosen a life of violence appear not to have gotten our message,” said District Attorney Tony Clayton. “If you choose to take the life of another unjustifiably you will forfeit your right to live freely. Put the guns down or you will die in Angola. We take no joy in prosecuting you, but you leave us no choice. Put the guns down.”

Edwards was killed in the drive-by shooting into a house she shared with her boyfriend, Kendel Mingo, on Russell Lane in Glynn on Feb. 14, 2019. She was asleep in bed at the time. In testimony during the trail, the DA’s office established that the shots fired into the house were intended to kill Mingo. After the shooting Mingo called the Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office and rushed Edwards to the hospital, but she died before arriving.

The DA’s office presented evidence that the shots that hit Edwards also killed the unborn child. “We presented real-life evidence of the death of an innocent, unborn baby that emanated from the senseless, stupid violence of Andre Griffin and Treveon Robinson,” Aguillard said.

“It was extremely emotional to see that happen in a live trial for the jurors, who were conducting their civic duty.”

 “District Attorney Tony Clayton has taken a position that when a case involves serious gun violence we will not standby and work out deals. Our objective is to present these cases to the juries of our three parishes to get justice for the victims,” added Aguillard.

WBR jury convicts Braggs of second degree murder

Darrell Braggs, a member of the Young & Reckless gang out of Pointe Coupee Parish, was convicted of second degree murder and aggravated criminal damage to property by a West Baton Rouge Parish jury on Jan. 31, reported District Attorney Tony Clayton.

In this unusual case, Braggs, 28, of 407 Berthier St., New  Roads, was charged with killing a member of his own gang, Jalael Leonard, while more than 30 shots were being fired after they got spooked during a car burglary off Section Road in West Baton Rouge Parish in 2021.

The trial was delayed several days as the defense tried to stop the testimony of an expert witness, a La. State Police gang expert, regarding the previous violent history and murders of the gang. After quick appeals, the La. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the DA’s Office in allowing the testimony.

The case was presented over 3 days, with closing arguments on Jan. 31. The jury deliberated for one and a half hours before handing down guilty verdicts. Sentencing was set for March 14, but the mandatory sentence for a second degree murder conviction is life in prison.

The case was presented by Assistant District Attorneys Chad Aguillard and Lonnie Guidroz. Judge Tonya Lurry presided over the trial. DA Clayton noted that one member of the Young & Reckless gang had previously been convicted of murder, and two more were involved in this case – the shooter and the victim. “We will continue to prosecute the members of this gang until the gang is eradicated,” he said.

“I want to thank local law enforcement for their excellent work on the investigation, our staff and prosecutors, and the citizens who served on the jury,” said DA Clayton. “This verdict shows the people of the 18th District (West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and Iberville Parishes) are not going to put up with gun violence and gangs. They will convict and the criminals will die in prison. My message is this: PUT THE GUNS DOWN or face the consequences.”

DA Tony Clayton reports convictions on ALL major jury trials in 2021

District Attorney Tony Clayton issued his 2021 case report for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, noting that the DA’s Office had a 100 percent conviction rate on a whopping 11 major criminal jury trials during 2021, despite facing numerous obstacles throughout the year.

“It was really challenging because this was the first year that unanimous jury verdicts were required,” said District Attorney Tony Clayton. “That meant all 12 jurors in every case had to vote to convict.”

“In addition, we tried a lot of cases in an abbreviated time of seven months because the Louisiana Supreme Court had prohibited trials during the first four months of the year due to COVID.” DA Clayton noted that trial preparation is time and resource consuming, and prosecuting 11 jury trials in a seven month period, along with its normal case workload, really stretched the DA’s office.

“I give the credit to my staff and assistant district attorneys who tried these cases,” Clayton said. “They did an excellent job of researching and presenting these cases to the juries.”

“I also thank the citizens who served on these jury trials,” he said. “Not a lot of people like serving on juries, but we had very attentive and intelligent jurors for all our trials. They listened to the evidence, and in every case, the juries issued unanimous guilty verdicts.”

I made the commitment to the citizens of the 18th District (Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee Parishes) that I would prosecute those who committed crimes, and I think this shows we are very serious about that,” DA Clayton said.

Some heinous crimes were among the 11 jury verdicts, including a number of murder cases, rape, sexual battery, armed robbery, and aggravated kidnapping of a child. A juvenile was convicted of second-degree murder and will serve juvenile life in jail.

“As I have said before, I will prosecute juvenile crime. Juveniles today have access to guns and use them, thinking that they will get away with it because they know we don’t have juvenile facilities,” DA Clayton said. “But that’s not going to happen under my watch. We will prosecute them for their crimes. However, I am a firm believer that they should be required to further their education and job skills while serving their juvenile terms. Just locking them up is not the answer, because when they get out they will continue to be a problem for our communities. We must educate them while they are paying for their crimes.”

“We are working to address the juvenile detention facility problem, but that will not deter me from prosecuting juveniles,” Clayton said. In addition, Clayton has brought on a new prosecutor, Niki Roberts, an experienced prosecutor from New Orleans, as Iberville’s Chief of Trials. Roberts has 20 years of jury trial and prosecution experience.

Following is a list of the 11 jury trials and convictions:

IBERVILLE PARISH:
Jamarkus Collins – armed robbery and two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Robert Marks – second degree murder, second degree kidnapping, feticide, aggravated kidnapping of a child, carjacking, obstruction of justice by tampering with evidence and four counts of illegal possession of a weapon with a crime of violence.
Quinton Lawrence – 2 counts of attempted second degree murder, 3 counts aggravated assault on a peace officer, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Sean Wilkinson – 11 counts of rape, and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH:
Arthur Breaux – principal to home invasion and principal to second degree robbery.
Kevin Hamburg – attempted second degree murder, attempted armed robbery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Greg Dupuy – 20 counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and sexual battery.
Juvenile – second degree murder.

POINTE COUPEE PARISH:
Javon Batiste – manslaughter, 2 counts of illegal possession of a stolen firearm, and obstruction of justice.
Jaquan Battley – second degree murder.
Steve Witty – two counts of attempted first degree murder of a police officer.

QUINTON LAWRENCE GETS MULTIPLE SENTENCES

Quinton Lawrence was sentenced on December 15, 2021, to multiple convictions after a jury trial in October. The sentence by 18th Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Engolio includes 35 years in prison on each of two attempted second degree murder convictions, 5 years each on three counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer with a firearm, and 20 years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

District Attorney Tony Clayton said the sentence was handed down as a result of the October 8, 2021, jury conviction of Lawrence (DOB 01/28/1962) of 58634 W.W. Harleaux, Plaquemine.

According to Clayton, the incident stemmed from a dispute with neighbors in December 2015. Lawrence went to their residence and threatened them. He ultimately fired shots striking one of the neighbors.

Lawrence then went to his home across the street and when officers approached the door, he aimed his gun at the officers and refused commands to put the weapon down, causing one of the officers to fire his duty weapon, hitting Lawrence.  State Police were called to investigate the case. Lawrence had previously been convicted of aggravated battery with a different victim in June of 2012.

“I commend the work of the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, Plaquemine Police Department, and Louisiana State Police detectives and crime scene investigators.  They did a great job in working this case, which went hand in hand with the prosecution of Quinton Lawrence,” said Clayton.

District Attorney Clayton stated, “I hope this prosecution and sentence sends a message that gun violence in the 18th Judicial District will not be tolerated.”

JUVENILE CONVICTED OF 2ND DEGREE MURDER

District Attorney Tony Clayton reports that a juvenile defendant was found guilty of 2nd degree murder on December 1, in 18th Judicial District Court in West Baton Rouge Parish. Judge Tonya Lurry issued the guilty verdict. The incident stemmed from a shooting that occurred in Port Allen, in which the juvenile defendant opened fired in an apartment complex targeting a 16-year-old victim.

Assistant District Attorneys Lonny Guidroz, Ashley Woods, and Larry Bossier successfully prosecuted the case, resulting in the juvenile defendant being sentenced to juvenile life, and immediately remanded into the custody of the Louisiana State Office of Juvenile Justice.

“It’s a sad day when a 14-year-old kid has to serve juvenile life in prison, and equally sad that a juvenile took the life of another child,” said District Attorney Clayton. “We will fully prosecute crimes to the fullest extent of the law, no matter the age of the perpetrator. This is my message to young folks: Put the guns down. It is a no way out situation and you will spend a substantial part of your life in prison if you commit crimes.”

Wilkinson sentenced to 11 life terms

SEAN WILKINSON SENTENCED TO 11 LIFE SENTENCES FOLLOWING HIS NOVEMBER 4TH CONVICTION FOR 11 COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE RAPE AND 25 YEARS FOR HIS CONVICTION OF INDECENT BEHAVIOR OF A JUVENILE. 

            District Attorney Tony Clayton reports that on November 24, Sean Wilkinson was sentenced to 11 life sentences following his November 4th conviction for 11 counts of first-degree rape, and 25 years for his conviction of indecent behavior of a juvenile.  Wilkinson, who lived in Plaquemine, was arrested for the crimes on September 19, 2017, and was later indicted by an Iberville Parish Grand Jury. 

District Judge Elizabeth Engolio handed down the mandatory sentence after denying the defendant’s motion for new trial and judgement notwithstanding the verdict. This is in accordance with the law relative to first-degree rape and the maximum sentence for indecent behavior of a juvenile. 

SEAN WILKINSON CONVICTED OF 11 COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE RAPE AND INDECENT BEHAVIOR OF A JUVENILE

District Attorney Tony Clayton reports that Sean Wilkinson was found guilty of 11 counts of First-Degree Rape and one count of Indecent Behavior of a Juvenile on November 4, 2021. A 12-person jury deliberated for approximately 3 hours before finding him guilty.  Wilkinson, who lived in Plaquemine, was arrested on September 19, 2017, for the crimes and later indicted by an Iberville Parish Grand Jury. 

According to Clayton, jury selection started on Tuesday, November 2, and the trial lasted three days. The jury reached its unanimous verdict late Thursday night . 

Ron Gathe, Chief of Trials for the District Attorney’s Office, led the prosecution of the case. He was assisted by Assistant District Attorneys Niki Roberts, Timmy Collins, and Brilliant Clayton.  Gathe stated, “This was a tough case with some very disturbing evidence.  The jury was very attentive, listened to the facts, and got it right.  I am pleased that the victims get to move on and continue the healing process.” Collins added, “Justice and closure was finally given to the victims.”

District Judge Elizabeth Engolio set sentencing for Wilkinson on December 15, 2021, at 9 a.m.

DA’s Office brings tough prosecution to violent crimes

Strong prosecution of violent crimes is one of the priorities of 18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton, and his agency has pushed through convictions and guilt pleas on a number of  cases involving felony crimes with weapons in Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee parishes.

POINTE COUPEE:

Javon Batiste, age, address, recently was sentenced after pleading guilty to manslaughter, illegal possession of stolen firearms (2 counts), and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to a total of 40 years at hard labor on the manslaughter count, 5 years on the possession of stolen firearms count, and 20 years on the obstruction of justice count, with the sentences to run concurrently. Batiste shot and killed Jaelen Fowler on March 27, 2019 on Pecan Drive in New Roads as the result of an on-going feud between them. He hid the weapon behind a shed near the crime scene.

WEST BATON ROUGE:

Arthur Breaux, 57, 786 Burbridge Ave., Port Allen, was found guilty of principal to second degree robbery and principal to home invasion. He entered the home of Leon Altazan on 6th Street in Port Allen through an unlocked back door on December 10, 2018. He attempted to strangle Altazan, who was sleeping in his bed at the time. Altazan awoke and fought off Breaux, but Breaux stole his pants with his wallet, which was holding $1,600. Breaux knew the victim because he had done work for him in the past. He has not been sentenced yet.

Kevin Hamburg, 25, of 7740 Morel Lane, Ventress, was found guilty of attempted second degree murder, attempted armed robbery and felon in possession of a firearm. Hamburg shot at Jeremy Gremillion, a patron at the La. Express Truck Stop in Erwinville in the early hours of August 16, 2017. Video footage at the truck stop showed the shooting the shooter was identified as Hamburg. He did not know the victim but attempted to rob him in the altercation. Hamburg was sentenced to 50 years in prison for attempted second degree murder, a concurrent sentence of 45 years in prison for attempted armed robbery, and 20 years to run consecutive for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

IBERVILLE:

Jamarcus Collins, 23, 58733 Jetson Ave., Plaquemine, plead guilty to armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on May 10. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison without benefit of parole on the armed robbery count, and a consecutive 10 years in prison on the firearm count.