NEW ORLEANS – Last week, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office (OPDA) secured the conviction of defendant Michael Robinson for the Second Degree Murders of Leroy Benn, Jr., Gavonte Lampkin, and Shantrell Parker in July 2018. Robinson was also convicted of Aggravated Battery, Conspiracy to Commit Second Degree Murder, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice. Defendants Kirk Powell and Denzel West were additionally convicted of multiple counts of Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice. Powell was also convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Second Degree Murder.
“Today, I am pleased that justice was delivered. As prosecutors, our top priority is to hold violent offenders accountable for their actions and to increase safety throughout the neighborhoods of New Orleans,” said District Attorney Jason Williams. “The DA’s Office is surging back against crime in our city and this conviction is proof of our commitment to delivering justice for the people of New Orleans. I am grateful for the work of Assistant DAs Alex Calenda and Katherine Messina for taking this case to court, and would like to give a special thanks to OPDA Investigators Mike Kitchens, Kevin Williams, and Jeffery Griffin and Victim/Witness Advocate Vickie Landry for their efforts on this case.”
According to New Orleans Police Department reports, defendants Robinson and West shot and killed Leroy Benn, Jr. on July 18, 2018, in the 5000 block of Tullis Street. Days following the murder, defendants Robinson and Powell shot and killed Gavonte Lampkin and Shantrell Parker in the Gentilly neighborhood, then took the bodies of the victims to a field a few blocks away and set them afire.
The trial took place in Section E of Criminal District Court; Judge Rhonda Goode-Douglas presided. The sentencing date is set for June 16, 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:
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.”