NEW ORLEANS – Last week, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office (OPDA) secured unanimous guilty verdicts in an Aggravated Assault with a Firearm and Felon in Possession of a Firearm case from March 2020. In a jury trial led by Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) Tori Guidry and Susan Kutcher, defendant Damien Jenkins was convicted of both weapons offenses, which took place in the 3600 block of General De Gaulle Drive in Algiers.
District Attorney Jason Williams said, “Our prosecutors are committed to delivering justice for the victims of crime in New Orleans. With every conviction secured in court, we take another step in continuing to surge back against crime and hold individuals accountable for violence in our community. I would like to thank ADAs Tori Guidry and Susan Kutcher and Victim/Witness
Advocate Angele Crawford for all of their hard work in court to secure a guilty verdict in this case. Everyone in our city wants increased safety and this DA’s Office is eager to continue working to do just that for New Orleans.”
According to New Orleans Police Department reports, the defendant followed the victim to the 3600 block of General De Gaulle Drive in Algiers. Following an exchange, the defendant pulled out a firearm and threatened the victim with physical harm. Prior to this encounter, the defendant had been stalking and threatening the victim with physical gestures and statements. The jury, after hearing the victim’s testimony, found the defendant guilty of Aggravated Assault with a Firearm and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
The trial took place in Section K of Criminal District Court; Judge Marcus DeLarge presided. The sentencing date is set for July 2022.
This conviction builds on the success of DA Williams and OPDA prosecutors to secure convictions in court 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 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.
- Trials Chief Matthew 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 that took place in the 5700 block of Saint Anthony Street in February 2019.
- DA Williams, along with OPDA Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Unit 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.
- OPDA Narcotics Unit Chief Andre Gaudin and First Assistant DA 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 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 in New Orleans East in September 2020.
- 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.
- Deputy Chief of Trials Lilian Hangartner and ADA Samantha Stagias, secured a unanimous guilty verdict in 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 in July 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.”