June 18, 2024

Orleans Parish Prosecutors Secure Murder Conviction in 2021 Killing in the Treme

New Orleans, LA – Yesterday, June 17, 2024, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams and Homicide Unit Chief Matthew Derbes stood with members of OPDA’s Homicide Unit and Investigations leadership to announce another trial victory for the City of New Orleans. Late Wednesday, an Orleans Parish jury returned a guilty as charged verdict for the June 2021 killing of Henry James. Defendant Barry Bowie was found guilty of second-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, and obstruction of justice in this deadly act.

The trial, notable for its lack of credible eyewitnesses, was successfully tried by Homicide ADAs Forest Ladd and Carlos Torres. ADA’s Ladd and Torres received invaluable support from the trial team, which included Trial Assistant Alecia Richards, Victim Advocate Natasha Childress, and Homicide Investigator Rayvon Souffrant. NOPD Homicide Detective Miles Guirreri’s initial investigation and testimony laid a solid foundation that helped to push this prosecution forward.

Because eyewitness testimony proved inconsistent during the trial, the preparation and investigative work of the trial team took on even more importance in this case. ADAs Ladd and Torres relied on video surveillance footage, pieced together from multiple sources, to trace Bowie’s movements that placed him at the scene of the crime. Additionally, a critical phone call made from jail featured Bowie admitting to being at the scene at the time of the shooting.

ADA Forrest Ladd addressed the media, describing the obstacles the prosecution had to overcome on the way to a guilty verdict. “This case had its fair share of difficulties, whether that was a witness who didn’t want to come forward or a witness who ended up getting on the stand and stating they didn’t remember sworn statements to police. In the absence of strong witness accounts, we were able to use surveillance footage from multiple cameras throughout the city both inside the apartment complex and real time crime camera footage from throughout the city that helped us to track the movements of the defendant.”

Barry Bowie now faces a mandatory life sentence. His sentencing is scheduled for July 31st in Section D by Judge Kimya Holmes.

OPDA has made its mission to fight for victims and against violence regardless of the stature of either party.

ADA Carlos Torres spoke of the importance the Homicide Unit assigns to each case the office is entrusted to review.

“Mr. Ladd and I took an oath to seek justice for victims of violent crimes, regardless of who they are, regardless of their race, and regardless of their economic status. Henry James’s life mattered.”

Investigations Bureau Chief Aaron Washington, on Souffrant’s textbook approach to secure a vital witness. “This witness was understandably hesitant to appear for a case in which we all knew the defendant to be dangerous. After locating the witness, Investigator Souffrant was able to describe the importance of his role and testimony in securing justice in this case. After connecting with the witness, Souffrant took his time to understand the witness and empathize with his concerns, building a strong rapport. His expert approach empowered the witness and assured him that our team is with him throughout every step of the process.”

The motivation and commitment shown by this trial team are emblematic of the spirit of the Homicide Unit. DA Williams envisioned the value of specialty units, such as homicide, would have before an ambitious pitch to City leadership.

“I established this Homicide Unit in early 2023 with the backing of the City Council and CAO Montano. We had just been named the murder capital of the country. I expressed to the Council the issues we were faced with and our strategies to overcome them. The Homicide Unit was strategically designed for this very purpose – to build muscle memory in this office with a dedicated group solely focused on these cases equipped with the best technological tools available. This unit has delivered. This unit has done an exceptional job of trying the toughest cases involving the most dangerous suspects and bringing in great results for this community.”

Homicide Unit Chief Matthew Derbes echoed the praise from DA Williams and shared key data to highlight just how effective the unit has been in its brief existence.

“I am incredibly proud to work with everybody in this room and everyone in this building. Everyone has a single attitude: we just don’t give up on these cases.

Since August of 2023, we have had over 250 trial settings for homicide. That doesn’t include daily discovery hearings, motion hearings, arraignments, or Grand Jury presentations—all the little things behind the scenes aside from the trial. To be exact, 256 homicide cases were set for trial. Since that time, we’ve gone to trial 36 times in homicide cases, with only 4 not guilty verdicts. This is the result of time, passion, work ethic, and everybody in this room working to get a result and to get justice in each case.”

It is innovations like the Homicide Unit and the recently established Open Source Intelligent Taskforce, among other Williams Administration rollouts that have led to consistent results and a historic decline in violent crime across all major categories. This team continues to be motivated to serve this community and will persist in vigorously fighting for the people of New Orleans.