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Month: August 2018

Arkansas Man, 83, Charged With Raping 11-Year-Old Girl in Franklinton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aug. 29, 2018

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a Washington Parish grand jury indicted Clyde Waymon Williams, 83, of Monette, Arkansas, Tuesday (Aug. 28) on charges of first degree rape of a victim under 13 and sexual battery of a victim under 13.

Williams is accused of raping an 11-year-old girl at a hotel in Franklinton in December 2017.

Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland presented the case to the grand jury.

Jury Convicts Slidell Man of Molesting Two Teen Girls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aug. 24, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish jury convicted Earnest C. Diaz, Jr., 45, of Slidell, Thursday (Aug. 23) of two counts of molestation of a juvenile where the offender had control or supervision over the juvenile and aggravated crime against nature. Diaz faces up to 20 years in prison on each count when he is sentenced on by District Judge Reginald Badeaux.

In the meantime, Badeaux set a sentencing bond, totaling $50,000—$20,000 on each of the molestation convictions, and $10,000 on the crime against nature conviction—for the defendant. That move prompted the District Attorney’s Office to file a motion Friday, asking the judge to increase the bond to $250,000 on each of the charges.

“Now that the defendant has been convicted, his bond is less than half of what it was prior to trial,” the motion says. “As the weight of the evidence is clearly enough to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and these charges demonstrate the defendant is an absolute danger to the community, the State believes a $50,000 bond is inadequate.”

Badeaux set a bond hearing on Sept. 4 and ordered the defendant to have no contact with the victims.

One of the victims testified during the trial this week that she was 15 years old when Diaz began touching her sexually under her clothes and offering to buy her things and pay her cell phone bill if she would have intercourse with him. She later disclosed that Diaz coerced her into sexual intercourse.

A second victim testified that she was 13 or 14 when Diaz pulled down her clothes and violated her. She said she didn’t tell anyone initially because she didn’t believe anyone would believe her.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the crimes.  Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Authement and Will Macke prosecuted the case.

District Attorney’s Office Launches Legal Education Program With St. Tammany School

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 24, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery’s Office launched a new legal education program at William Pitcher Junior High School today (Aug. 24) in partnership with St. Tammany Parish Schools to teach schoolchildren about the criminal justice system and help them make good choices.

The program, called Kids LEAD (Legal Education And Discovery), also will introduce the students to a variety of legal careers by providing speakers each week on a different legal topic for the entire semester.

“I am excited about bringing this much-needed program to St. Tammany Parish schools,” Montgomery said. “It will help our children think about the choices they make and the sometimes life-altering consequences.”

The program’s first session kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday with District Judge William J. Knight, who talked to the students about the consequences of their choices. Other speakers on the agenda include Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims, Criminal Division Chief, who will provide an overview of the criminal justice system; and Assistant District Attorney Ronnie Gracianette, who will engage the students in an interactive activity in which they act as members of a grand jury and make decisions in a fictitious case. The students also will hear from representatives of the Louisiana Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, MADD, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office, Louisiana Department of Probation and Parole, ADAPT Rape Crisis Center, and more.

The program is designed to educate students about the criminal justice system and help them steer clear of trouble.

“We are so excited to be a part of the program that District Attorney’s office is initiating,” said Amy T. Burns, Principal of William Pitcher. “I am appreciative of the opportunity that it affords my students to have a better understanding of why good choices are so important in life.”

 

Lacombe Man Who Raped Juvenile Gets 99 Years In Prison

August 21, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that James Matthew Cole, 64, of Lacombe, was sentenced Monday (August 20) to 99 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed, for sexual battery of a victim under 13.

District Judge Scott Gardner also sentenced Cole to 40 years in prison for second degree rape and 40 years for molestation of a juvenile, also the maximum sentences. All of the sentences are to be served concurrently.

A St. Tammany Parish jury found Cole guilty earlier this month of abusing a girl from the time she was 9 or 10 years old for several years. The victim told authorities that she pleaded with Cole to stop touching her and he agreed if she would do something sexual for him once a month.  In Sept. 2015, he began raping her.

The victim, who now lives out of state, later told her mother, who contacted police. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, investigated the case.  The Dallas Area Children’s Advocacy Center also assisted.

Assistant District Attorney Casey Dieck, who prosecuted the case, read a statement from the mother of the victim about the impact of the crime on the girl’s life.  “She has had anxiety attacks, nightmares, and has even resorted to cutting, and suicidal thoughts,” the mother’s statement said. “We take her to counseling every Monday to help her cope with what you did to her… You have ultimately changed all of our lives because of what you did.”

During the sentencing hearing, Gardner noted the weight of the evidence against Cole and the impact of the crimes on the victims, which included three prior victims who testified about how Cole abused them 30 years ago.

Assistant District Attorney Holly McGinness assisted in the prosecution.

Woman Gets Life Sentence For Killing Best Friend’s Fiancé

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 17, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Margaret Stockstill, 33, of Franklinton, was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday (August 16) for killing her best friend’s fiancé. A St. Tammany Parish jury found Stockstill guilty of second degree murder for the crime after a weeklong trial before District Judge Peter J. Garcia in June.

Stockstill fatally shot Cody Couch, 27, on April 14, 2017, during an argument at the home he shared with his fiancée, Kristin Copeland. Copeland testified during the trial that she became angry when Couch left the house earlier that evening and did not respond to her repeated calls and text messages.

She told him in a text message that that the relationship was over and that she was burning his clothes. She sent a photo of burning clothes. When Couch returned home around 10 p.m., an argument broke out between him and the two women, who had once shared a brief romantic relationship. Stockstill ultimately fired a fatal shot, striking Couch in the lower abdomen.

Couch’s sister, Tina, read a statement from the couple’s 9-year-old son: “The hardest times are on Father’s Day, my birthday, and times when other kids have their dads around,” he said. “I have a hard time at night ‘cause I miss him so much.”

Other family members also gave statements about the impact of Couch’s death on them.

Garcia denied Stockstill’s request for a new trial.  Assistant District Attorneys Blair Alford and Elizabeth Authement prosecuted the case.

Former St. Tammany Deputy Pleads Guilty to Distributing Marijuana and Malfeasance

August 15, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Szalajeski, 36, of Folsom, pleaded guilty Wednesday (August 15) to two counts of distribution of marijuana and two counts of malfeasance in office.

District Judge Raymond S. Childress sentenced Szalajeski to 10 years in prison with nine of them suspended on each of the distribution charges and five years with four of them suspended on each of the malfeasance charges. The sentences are to be served at the same time.

“As a law enforcement officer, this defendant was arresting citizens for the same conduct that he was personally engaged in,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “This erodes the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system far beyond this one case. This will not be tolerated.”

While employed with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Szalajeski seized marijuana, alcohol, and other contraband while conducting traffic stops on October 25, 2016, and May 26, 2018. But instead of handling the evidence properly, he distributed it to his girlfriend for personal consumption.

When the crime was discovered, Szalajeski was fired from the Sheriff’s Office, and he was later charged.

In addition to the prison sentence, Szalajeski was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and to serve three years of probation when he is released from prison. Childress ordered Szalajeski to turn himself in on Friday (Aug. 17) to begin serving his sentence, and Childress warned the defendant that he would be arrested if he does not show up.

Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims and Assistant District Attorney Blake Peters prosecuted to the case.

Jury Finds Lacombe Man Guilty of Raping a Juvenile

August 13, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish jury found James Matthew Cole, 64, of Lacombe, guilty Friday of second degree rape, molestation of a juvenile, and sexual battery of a victim under 13.  He faces 25 to 99 years in prison when he is sentenced by District Judge Scott Gardner.

The charges involve a single victim, who was 9 or 10 years old when Cole first fondled her.  The abuse continued for two years, despite the victim’s pleas for him not to touch her any more.  The victim told authorities that Cole agreed to stop if she would do something sexual for him once a month.  In September 2015, Cole went to the victim, told her it was his one time a month, and raped her.

The crimes came to light a few months later when the victim told her mother, who contacted police. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, investigated the case.  The Dallas Area Children’s Advocacy Center also assisted.

In 1992, Cole pleaded guilty to indecent behavior with a juvenile in a separate case.  Three prior victims also testified during the trial last week that he had abused them 30 years ago.

The jury deliberated about three hours before returning the guilty verdict. Assistant District Attorneys Casey Dieck and Holly McGinness prosecuted the case.

Jury Finds Lacombe Man Guilty of Raping Mandeville Woman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 10, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Ronald D. Moore, Jr., 26, of Lacombe, guilty Thursday evening of first degree rape and aggravated burglary for breaking into a Mandeville woman’s home and raping her last year. Moore faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison when he appears before District Judge Peter Garcia for sentencing on Sept. 17.

Assistant District Attorneys Blair Alford and William Macke argued during the trial, which began Monday with jury selection, that Moore was a stranger to the then 53-year-old victim and that this was a crime of opportunity. The victim, who lived alone in Old Mandeville, testified that she had fallen asleep on the sofa and was awakened about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 5, 2017, by Moore, who was standing over her and fondling her.

She initially fought him, but he put her in a chokehold, strangling her so intensely that blood pooled in the back of her neck, and blood vessels ruptured in her face.  During an ordeal that lasted about two hours, Moore raped her, threatened to kill her, taunted her, and stole her prescription medication, driver’s license and mobile phone.

When Moore eventually fled, the victim left her home and picked up a friend, who accompanied her to the hospital, where the Mandeville Police Department was contacted.  The victim was able to give a detailed description of Moore. During their investigation, police officers used video surveillance from surrounding establishments to identify Moore, who matched the victim’s description. When an image from the video was publicized, a caller identified Moore.

Officers identified two people, seen on video holding a conversation with Moore, who was wearing a ripped shirt. They testified that Moore had told them a girl had left him stranded at a bar and that he offered them $5 to give him a ride to an address in Lacombe.  Moore ultimately was arrested at that address.  DNA evidence, matched to Moore, also was found on the victim.

In statements to police, Moore remembered being at the bar, which is located near the victim’s home.  He also said he recalled getting a ride home, but he claimed he could not remember what happened during the hours between those times.

The jury deliberated about two hours before finding Moore guilty as charged.