NEW ORLEANS – Today, before heading into Criminal District Court to personally try a Second Degree Murder case​ in front of a jury​, District Attorney Jason Williams provided remarks regarding his federal trial acquittal.

District Attorney Jason Williams said, “I am thankful to God for girding me and seeing me and my family through this time. Of course, I am glad to be vindicated and found not guilty, as expected. However, today is in no way a ​day of celebration. As Judge Africk so eloquently said to the jury ​in my case, ‘There are no winners and losers in the criminal legal system. There are simply resolutions.’ I have now personally felt the pain, fear, isolation, and disorientation of ​an abuse of power and prosecutorial discretion. It was an incredibly sobering experience to witness, ​as I did, the power of an overreaching prosecutor.

“My friend and law partner, Nicole Burdett Waguespack, was convicted of crimes she did not commit. She acted with integrity and refused to lie or embellish the truth, and she has paid a dear cost for that integrity. I’m confident​ that she too will be vindicated, but until that happens, this ordeal is​ not over.

“What I’ve learned from this experience is that what happened to me can happen to anyone – no matter your politics. It has thus made the gravity and responsibility of my office even more extraordinary and awe-inspiring in my mind. And so while the brilliant legal team of Lisa Wayne, Billy Gibbons, Avery Pardee, and Mike Magner continues to fight for Nicole’s innocence, I’m excited to personally get ​back into ​Criminal Court to keep fighting for the victims and survivors of the violent crime that is plaguing this city.

“My role and my goal as District Attorney is to ensure that justice is served for all people in New Orleans.”

Over the past month, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office (OPDA) has been hard at work securing justice for victims and survivors. The office secured over 60 convictions via guilty plea for a number of violent crimes, including armed robbery, burglary, domestic abuse, illegal possession of weapons, manslaughter, and theft. Additionally, over the past two weeks alone, OPDA took 5 violent felony cases to trial ​and secured convictions in 4 of them; charges included felony burglary, aggravated battery, and sexual abuse of a minor. The office also secured grand jury indictments in two second degree murder cases.

This work builds on the success of DA Williams and OPDA prosecutors to secure convictions via jury trial since the resumption of jury trials in March. When cases come to OPDA with sufficient evidence, the District Attorney’s Office has vigorously fought for victims of violent crimes. Guilty jury trial verdicts secured since March include:

  • DA Williams, along with OPDA Trials Division Chief Matthew Derbes, secured the conviction of Samuel Hunter for the Second Degree Murder of Anthony Bridges in the 1700 block of Monroe Street on Christmas Day 2020.
  • ADAs Liz Strauss and Adele Krieger secured the conviction of Demeccio Caston for the Second Degree Murder of Patrick Lamar in New Orleans East in August 2019
  • ADAs Samantha Stagias and Carmen Gealogo secured the conviction of Trae Williams for the manslaughter of his uncle Eddie Salvant III in Algiers in April 2014.
  • Chief Derbes and ADA Joe Zanetti secured the conviction of Harrison Bethley for the murder of his cousin, Darnell Thomas, in the 1800 block of Treasure Street in February 2020.
  • ADAs Corbin Bates and Carmen Gealogo secured the conviction of Jhustyn Garrett for Domestic Abuse stemming from an incident that took place in the 5700 block of Saint Anthony Street.
  • DA Williams, along with OPDA Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Unit Chief Mary Glass and ADA Naomi Jones, secured the conviction of William McDonough for the rape of a victim in the 900 block of Poeyfarre Street in September 2016.
  • ADA/Screening Division Chief Andre Gaudin, Jr. and First Asst. Ned McGowan secured the conviction of Christopher Alexander for the murder of Idrick Brister in New Orleans East in 2018.
  • ADAs Simone Levine and Brad Scott secured the conviction of Gerald “Frog” West for the murder of Marion Brit Hutson, Jr. in New Orleans East in February 2018.
  • SAKI Chief Mary Glass and ADA Naomi Jones secured the cold case conviction of defendant Roland Butler for kidnapping, robbery, and sexual assault in the 1100 block of Toledano Street in 1996.
  • ADA Samantha Stagias secured the conviction of defendant Tremaine Williams for Aggravated Battery and Felon with a Firearm in New Orleans East in September 2020.
  • DA Williams, along with ADAs Christian Hebert-Pryor and Screening Chief Andre Gaudin, Jr., secured the conviction of Garrett Ward for the killing of 60-year-old Arnold Jackson in the 2000 block of Saint Charles Avenue in January 2018.
  • Deputy Chief of Trials Lilian Hangartner and ADA Samantha Stagias secured the unanimous conviction of Joshua Riley for a Third Degree Rape that took place in the French Quarter in July 2019.
  • ADAs Alex Calenda and Katherine Messina secured the conviction of defendant Michael Robinson for the Second Degree Murders of Leroy Benn, Jr., Gavonte Lampkin, and Shantrell Parker that took place in the in the 5000 block of Tullis Street in Gentilly in July 2018.
  • ADAs Tori Guidry and Susan Kutcher secured the conviction of Damien Jenkins for Aggravated Assault with a Firearm and Felon in Possession of a Firearm, which took place in the 3600 block of General De Gaulle Drive in Algiers in March 2020.
  • Deputy Chief of Trials Lilian Hangartner and ADA Penny Kissinger secured the conviction of defendant Shonnon Esteen for the rape of two minors in Orleans Parish between 2006 to 2010.