NEW ORLEANS – Last week, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office (OPDA) secured a unanimous guilty verdict in a Third Degree Rape case. Led by Deputy Chief of Trials Lilian Hangartner and Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Samantha Stagias, defendant Joshua Riley was convicted of a rape that took place in the French Quarter in July 2019.
“From Day 1, we have been committed to holding those who choose to wreak havoc in our community accountable for their actions. The conviction of this defendant is proof of this commitment to the people of New Orleans,” said District Attorney Williams. “This conviction would not have been possible without the meticulous investigative work of Detective Brandon McDonald as well as expert testimonies from Louisiana State Police Crime Lab and University Medical Center. I have said it before and I will continue to say it – we cannot prosecute cases without sufficient evidence. In this case, the quality of evidence gathered, coupled with the vigorous prosecutorial work of ADAs Hangartner and Stagias, led to a predator in our community being held to account. I am proud that justice was served for this victim and her family.”
According to New Orleans Police Department reports, the defendant picked the intoxicated victim up from the floor of a local bar, carried her to his car, and raped her. After a week of trial, the jury found that the victim was too intoxicated to consent to sexual intercourse and the defendant knew or should have known of her inability to consent.
The trial took place in Section D of Criminal District Court; Judge Kimya Holmes presided. The sentencing date is set for June 2022.
This conviction builds on the success of DA Williams and OPDA prosecutors to secure convictions in court since the resumption of jury trials. When cases come to OPDA with the required evidence, the District Attorney’s Office has vigorously fought for victims and families of violent crimes. Convictions secured include:
- DA Williams, along with OPDA Trials Division Chief Matthew Derbes, secured the conviction of defendant 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 Justyn Garrett for Domestic Abuse stemming from an incident in 2020.
- DA Williams, along with OPDA Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Division Chief Mary Glass and ADA Naomi Jones, secured the conviction of defendant William McDonough for the rape of a victim in the 900 block of Poeyfarre Street in September 2016.
- ADA/Narcotics Chief Gaudin and First Asst. 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 defendant 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 1996.
- ADA Samantha Stagias secured the conviction of defendant Tremaine Williams for Aggravated Battery and Felon with a Firearm.
- DA Williams, along with ADAs Christian Hebert-Pryor and Narcotics Chief Andre Gaudin, secured the conviction of defendant Garret Ward for the killing of 60-year-old Arnold Jackson in the 2000 block of Saint Charles Avenue in January 2018.
DESPITE SUCCESS BY PROSECUTORS IN COURT, ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ARE STILL NEEDED FROM THE CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF THIS CRIME SURGE AND TO HELP INCREASE SAFETY IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
Since November 2021, the DA’s Office has argued that as the caseload increases due to the crime surge and COVID-19 backlog, OPDA is in need of additional staff, funding and resources. District Attorney Williams continues to double down on his request to the New Orleans City Council and Mayor LaToya Cantrell to fund our requests for additional lawyers, more DNA testing analysts, and Cold Case funding to improve OPDA’s capacity and help prosecutors build stronger cases.
The City of New Orleans has millions of dollars from the federal government that are earmarked for this exact need that are not being spent. The District Attorney’s Office needs immediate action to hire more people to handle this increased workload.
“We are prosecutors. Trying cases in front of a jury is what we do, so we are excited to be back in court presenting cases with strong evidence in pursuit of justice and increased safety. However, we are faced with some of the most unprecedented challenges this office has ever seen. From an increased case load to a large DNA backlog, our office needs support and resources from City leadership,” said District Attorney Williams. “These times are absolutely the most challenging we’ve faced in recent history, but we are holding those who commit violent offenses accountable and securing justice for the victims and families. This office will be steadfast in restoring trust in our criminal legal system by securing convictions in some of the most difficult cases as well as addressing decades of indifference to the concerns of community.”