FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2017
COVINGTON—A Mandeville man abruptly ended his second degree murder trial Friday (June 9) by pleading guilty in the death of his ex-wife on her birthday in 2012. District Judge August J. Hand then sentenced the defendant, Calvin B. Jefferson, 46, to a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
“The evidence was overwhelming,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “I’m glad he pled to give some closure to the family and reduce their pain.”
Montgomery praised the work of Assistant District Attorneys John Alford and Blake Peters, as well as the defense attorneys and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Det. Alvin Hotard, who investigated the case.
Judge Hand allowed Jefferson to enter what is known as an “Alford plea,” A U.S. Supreme Court precedent that enables a defendant to maintain his innocence, while conceding the overwhelming evidence against him that likely would result in a guilty verdict. Prosecutors strongly objected to Jefferson’s conditional plea, which was based on the 1970 U.S. Supreme Court case North Carolina v. Alford. Assistant District Attorney Alford (no connection to the Supreme Court case) said Hand had listened all week to the “mountain of evidence” against Jefferson and urged the judge to reject the condition. “The state is morally opposed and strenuously and morally objects to allowing the defendant to maintain his innocence,” Alford argued in court.
Nicole Jefferson, the defendant’s ex-wife, who had worked as a Transportation Security Administration agent, was killed on her 31st birthday on April 29, 2012, after a party at the Mandeville home she shared with her ex-husband. The coroner determined that she died from homicidal violence due to blunt force trauma.
The couple had been divorced since 2006, but testimonies during the weeklong trial revealed that Nicole Jefferson allowed her ex-husband to move back in with her after relocating to Mandeville from a Dallas suburb to help care for their four children. Witnesses were prepared to testify that Nicole Jefferson was ready to move on without her ex-husband. She was last seen by family members and friends when they celebrated her birthday.
Calvin Jefferson initially told police that he and his wife went to bed after the party and that when he woke up, she was gone. Jefferson changed his story several times, and prosecutors presented video evidence showing that at the time Jefferson had said he was sleeping, he was actually purchasing a bottle of ammonia in a local Wal Mart. Prosecutors also presented videos that showed his vehicle in the area of the interstate where Nicole Jefferson’s body was later found on May 6 and a video of him at a car wash after midnight on the night she disappeared.
In addition, prosecutors were prepared to introduce testimonies from witnesses in seven prior cases in which Calvin Jefferson was arrested for domestic violence in the Dallas area, Calcasieu Parish, as well as St. Tammany.
Four family members of Nicole Jefferson and some of her T.S.A. colleagues testified before the sentencing about the impact of Nicole’s death on their lives. Nicole’s brother Chris Veade, and her niece, Elizabeth Veade, both wanted to know why. “Don’t just give me a blank stare,” Elizabeth Veade said in one of many emotional moments in the trial and sentencing. “Why? Especially on her birthday.”
Kathy Kromer, who had worked with Nicole for T.S.A. in Dallas, said her friend had been a battered wife. Kromer said she saw Nicole with a black eye and bruises and that Nicole had once confided in her that she had been locked in her bedroom for three days. “To me, you are the scum of the earth,” she told Calvin Jefferson. “Couldn’t you have just walked away?”