Monday, June 20, 2016

Margaret Sanchez pleads guilty in 2012 killing of Jaren Lockhart

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 10:58 AM

The Jefferson Parish Government Center in Gretna. - CREATIVE COMMONS/LEGORIKI
  • The Jefferson Parish Government Center in Gretna.
Margaret Sanchez, 32, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the 2012 stabbing death of Jaren Lockhart, 22, and been given a sentence of 40 years, 40 years and 20 years — the maximum possible sentences — all running concurrently. 

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna this morning accepted the plea deal worked out between the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's office and Sanchez's attorneys, Anna Friedberg and Cynthia Cimino. 

The plea ends a major chapter in a tragic and lurid local crime case, The reading of the agreement into record included a tearful victim impact statement from Donna Kulick, who is raising Lockhart's young daughter. After speaking of the suffering Lockhart's death had caused, Kulick momentarily appeared to go off-script: "I can't read this next sentence," she said, "At this point in time you're eligible for parole. Justice has not been served: you didn't get life." 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

New Orleans gathers to remember victims of the Orlando shootings

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Participants at last night's vigil for the Orlando shooting victims formed a human chain along the Mississippi River. - DELLA HASSELLE
  • Participants at last night's vigil for the Orlando shooting victims formed a human chain along the Mississippi River.
A black flag with a rainbow fleur-de-lis fluttered above. Below, a circle of men, women and transgender members of the New Orleans LGBT community stood in silence, cradling flickering candles. Some who gathered at a local vigil Sunday night could be heard sobbing as friends and loved ones tried to offer comfort.

Less than 24 hours after 50 were killed at an Orlando gay dance club — a massacre that is now being called the worst mass shooting in United States history — members of the LGBT community near and far were left reeling.

The loss was deeply felt in New Orleans, as the city’s Pride Week loomed just a week ahead, and as locals were preparing for Labor Day weekend’s Decadence Festival, the city’s largest gay event that’s been tradition for more than 40 years.

As he gave a speech on the Moon Walk next to the Mississippi River, Frank Perez, vigil speaker and member of LGBT+, reiterated a story that resonated among those who had gathered for the impromptu vigil.

Perez, he said, had woken up to the news, which had broken in the wee hours of the morning. Omar Mateen, 29, a Florida man who had reportedly given his allegiance to the Islamic State, had opened gunfire in Pulse, a club known for its outreach as much as for its dancing. Armed with an assault-type rifle and a handgun, according to the Associated Press, Mateen killed 50 and injured another 53 before being shot to death by law enforcement. In the aftermath, local blood banks cited a “dire” need for donations. It was a suspected hate crime.

“Like most of you I went through a series of emotions throughout the day. I was sad, I was angry, I was confused, I was dumfounded,” Perez said. “We want to make sense of these tragedies, and I don’t know if we can.”

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sidney Torres updates crime app, announces new patrol cars and a 'war room'

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Sidney Torres and one of the new French Quarter Task Force Smart cars. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Sidney Torres and one of the new French Quarter Task Force Smart cars.

Former garbage king and current crime-fighting real estate developer Sidney D. Torres IV announced a new fleet of vehicles and a "2.0" version of the French Quarter Task Force app he developed last year, described as the "Uber of policing" in the neighborhood.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Louisiana's hate crime law, which already includes police, now includes police. Again.

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 6:05 PM

The first-ever "Blue Lives Matter" bill just became law. Louisiana was the first state to push and successfully sign into law a measure adding first responders (police officers, EMS and firefighters) as a protected class under the state's hate crime law. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the measure from state Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, today.

The state's hate crime laws strengthen penalties for criminal offenses targeting a person or group's "actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property or because of actual or perceived membership or service in, or employment with, an organization." In the state's definition, "organization" also means "any entity or unit of federal, state, or local government" — which covers police officers. 

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Louisiana's next jail scandal

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 11:03 AM

Apparently Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman isn’t the only jailer with a rogue prison on his hands. Last week, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge Mark Doherty ordered officials from the state Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) to appear in his court on May 19 because conditions at their facility in Bridge City are “so out of control that they may rise to the level of being unconstitutional.”

Doherty’s “rule to show cause” is an extraordinary measure, but word has it he’s not alone in his concerns about egregiously unsafe conditions at the Bridge City Center for Youth (BCCY). His May 5 directive cites 15 reasons why he has ordered the release of two youthful offenders from BCCY.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

‘Drunk on violence’: Landrieu gives emotional address on New Orleans’ murder problem

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 10:33 PM

In this file photo, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison address the media at a press conference. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • In this file photo, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison address the media at a press conference.
As New Orleanians and football fans around the country still reel from the shooting death of Saints defensive end Will Smith, Mayor Mitch Landrieu made an emotional plea to residents to help curb a local murder problem that he said has become “baked in” to the city’s culture.

“We are a city, we are a country that is drunk on violence,” Landrieu told a packed audience at a Tulane University auditorium for his address on violence in New Orleans. “And we need to wake up to this fact.”

Landrieu’s address was given two weeks after Smith was gunned in a car near his wife after being involved in a minor car accident, police said.

The incident prompted widespread reaction from city residents, antiviolence groups and fans near and far. During a second line held in Smith’s honor, several residents called the murder “senseless.”

But Landrieu reminded the crowd that it wasn’t occasional celebrity killings like Smith’s that prompted Louisiana to have the number one homicide rate in the nation.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Y@ Speak: pregaming

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 7:15 PM

Glen David Andrews began the week with a call to action in the wake of Will Smith's death, and New Orleans answered. Also in this quiet ruining of a frat guy's week: : Inspector Gadget, jedi and lethal caterpillars are among us, presumably to enjoy the sights and sounds of Jazz Fest from a folding chair where you can neither see nor hear while blocking my way to a sun-roasted port-o-let.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Will Smith second line postponed to Friday, April 15

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 10:36 AM

Will Smith in 2012. - JEFFREY BEAL
  • Will Smith in 2012.
Heavy rains postponed a second line led by James Andrews to honor former New Orleans Saint Will Smith, who was killed late Saturday. The second line — originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 — is rescheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, April 15.

Andrews tells Gambit the second line is not only a memorial to Smith but a message of nonviolence. Andrews says performers include his Crescent City All Stars and many musical members of the Andrews family.

The 2.7-mile route begins outside the Half Moon (1125 St. Mary St.) and continues north on Camp Street, left on Canal Street, and right on Basin Street to Orleans Avenue. It ends at the Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar at 1931 Orleans Ave. Andrews also will perform at the bar.

Organizers encourage people to bring anti-violence signs and "pictures to commemorate all lost to violence in New Orleans."

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Sean Payton to USA Today: "It's like the Wild, Wild West here"

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 4:20 PM

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. - MICHAEL C. HEBERT/NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
  • New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
In the aftermath of Saturday night's shooting that killed former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, Saints coach Sean Payton has given a frank interview to USA Today's Jarrett Bell, in which Payton states "I hate guns," "“I’ve heard people argue that everybody needs a gun. That’s madness" and “They don’t want to kill tourism. But right now, it’s like the Wild, Wild West here.”

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Y@ Speak: "shocked, crushed and broken"

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 2:05 PM

New Orleans and former Saints teammates mourn the loss of Will Smith, who was killed late Saturday night.

Also in this week's edition: bread wars, French Quarter Fest, monuments and bags of caterpillars.

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