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D.A. Warren Montgomery presents to the 22nd JDC Family Court’s Bar Association CLE.

District Attorney Warren Montgomery was pleased for his Office to be among the presenters at the 22nd JDC Family Court’s Bar Association CLE.  Mr. Montgomery and his Team, led by Assistant District Roy Burns, III, a domestic violence prosecutor, and Assistant District Attorney Tammy Keaton, who heads our Non-Support Division. Among the many positive statistics, the D.A.’s domestic violence section has been enhanced during the Montgomery Administration from one full-time and a part-time staff member working DV cases to five full-time staff members. In addition, they dismissed 197 fewer cases from 2014 to 2017 (224 to 27). Also, in 2018, of a total of 334 cases, 300 of them ended in guilty pleas and another five defendants were found guilty at trial. Just as spectacularly, our Child Support Division has made smart changes in its processing time, using all of the latest technologies. The division also has had some excellent personnel developments and communication improvements, and has reduced wait time from application to court hearing from 6 months to one to two months. In another milestone that is rare for child support offices across the country, our child support staff has exceeded 90% for cases in their caseloads with a child support obligation established at 90.29% and collected a whopping $52,849,539.90 in back child support for eligible constituents since 2017. So far this year, the staff already has collected $11,908,565.36.

DA Montgomery speaks at LA Opioid Action Summit

District Attorney Warren Montgomery was a guest speaker yesterday during the first day of the Louisiana Opioid Action Summit at the Harbor Center in Slidell. The three-day event, sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Health, has brought together state and local officials, as well as community leaders to brain storm ideas and develop strategies to combat the crisis that is devastating communities across the country. D.A. Montgomery talked about the 22nd Judicial District’s approach, offering Operation Angel, Diversion, and the Specialty Courts to drug addicts to give them a chance at rehabilitation, instead of incarceration.

Jury Finds Slidell Man Guilty of Sexual Battery of a Juvenile

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August 30, 2019

Jury Finds Slidell Man Guilty of Sexual Battery of a Juvenile

COVINGTON- District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Charles Morgan, 58, of Slidell, guilty Thursday (Aug. 29) of Sexual Battery of a Juvenile under 13. Morgan faces up to 99 years in prison when he is sentenced by District Judge Richard Swartz, Jr., on October 18.

The crime came to light in August 2014, when the victim responded with reluctance to a family member’s suggestion that they visit the defendant’s residence. When the adult family member asked why victim did not like spending time with Morgan, the victim revealed that Morgan had sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions over several years. One of the victim’s parents then immediately notified law enforcement.

Morgan was ultimately arrested and charged. He has had had prior felony convictions for possession of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as multiple DWI convictions.

After deliberation, the jury returned with a verdict of guilty as charged.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Luke Lancaster and Tiffany Dover.

 

 

Jury Finds Slidell Man Guilty of Raping and Molesting a Juvenile

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August 27, 2019

Jury Finds Slidell Man Guilty of Raping and Molesting a Juvenile

 

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Otto Alfaro, 64, of Slidell, guilty Friday, as charged, of aggravated rape and molestation of a juvenile under the age of 13.

 The defendant faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence for aggravated rape. He also faces a minimum of 25 years to 99 years for the molestation charge, with at least 25 of those years without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. He is scheduled for sentencing before District Judge August J. Hand on Oct. 9.

Alfaro repeatedly sexually abused the juvenile in both Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes over the course of several years. The abuse began with fondling when the juvenile was 6 years old and progressed over several years.

Alfaro attempted to avoid authorities for several months by sleeping in his car in other parishes. While on the run, Alfaro attempted to apologize to the victim and to get her to forgive him for what he had done to her. The victim was also under severe pressure from those close to Alfaro to recant or change her story so that the defendant could avoid arrest and prosecution.

Ultimately, the victim never wavered in her allegations against the defendant, despite five hours of cross examination by defense counsel.

“This case was a great example of how multiple organizations work together to form a safety net for children in need,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “The organizations that should be applauded for maintaining the safety of this child are the Department of Children and Family Services, The Children’s Advocacy Center Hope House, the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center, the St. Tammany Parish School Board, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Holly McGinness and Casey Dieck.  The defendant was represented by Nicholas Linder.

 

Grand Jury Indicts Baton Rouge Man for Second Degree Murder

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August 21, 2019

COVINGTON- District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury has indicted Terrell Brian Sylvas, 35, of Baton Rouge, on Wednesday (August 21) of one count of Second Degree Murder, one count of Possession of Heroin, and one count of Illegal Carrying of Weapons While in Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.

The grand jury indicted Sylvas for possession of heroin, illegally carrying a weapon while in possession of alprazolam, and of murdering a man with a handgun following a verbal dispute on the night of April 26, 2019 in Slidell. Assistant District Attorney Blake Peters presented the case to the grand jury.

Jury Convicts Mandeville Woman For The Attempted Murder Of Her Former Attorney

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August 16, 2019

Jury Convicts Mandeville Woman For The Attempted Murder Of Her Former Attorney

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Patricia M. Currie, 78, of Mandeville, guilty Wednesday (August 14) of attempted second degree murder for trying to kill her former attorney.

Currie faces from 10 to 50 years in prison when she appears before District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher for sentencing on Sept. 30.

During the trial, which began with jury selection Monday, Attorney Keith Couture testified that he was alone in a back office at his law firm on Oct. 27, 2016, when he heard the door open. He walked to the front of the office and saw Currie sitting in a chair with latex gloves covering her hands, plastic grocery bags on her feet, and a white towel across her lap. Currie didn’t have an appointment, and when Couture asked her why she was there, she said she had come to kill him. Currie then moved the towel and raised the gun at Couture, but he was able to wrestle the weapon from her and call police.

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrived and arrested Currie on the scene. Officers discovered that the gun not only was loaded but that Currie had four additional shotgun shells in her undergarments and a box of additional ammunition in her car.

Currie testified in her own defense, admitting that she had gone to Couture’s office with her hands and feet covered and that she also had brought along a loaded shotgun, but she said she intended only to scare her former attorney—a claim rebutted by prosecutors.

“This was a cold-blooded, calculated attempted murder,” Assistant District Attorney Blair Alford said during her closing argument. “If it was not for the victim’s quick thinking to wrestle the gun away from her, he would be dead. We would not have heard from him but only be looking at his pictures.”

Couture had been Currie’s attorney during federal bankruptcy proceedings. Alford and Assistant District Attorney Angad S. Ghai also presented evidence that Couture may not have been the only attorney on Currie’s hit list. Just two hours before showing up at Couture’s office, Currie had been spotted in her red Camaro, parked in the woods outside the office of another attorney who had represented her for part of a three-decades-old legal dispute with the home owners’ association in her Mandeville neighborhood. An employee of the building where the law firm was located asked Currie to move her car from the woods to a visitor’s parking space, but she refused. She angrily gripped her steering wheel when she was told the attorney she wanted to see was not there and that police would be called. The worker noticed she was wearing blue latex gloves.

The jury deliberated just 15 minutes before voting unanimously to convict Currie.

Jury Convicts Pearl River Man of Molesting A Juvenile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 9, 2019 COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Claude Wayne Bennett, 68, of Pearl River, guilty Wednesday (Aug. 7) of two counts of Molestation of a Juvenile under 13. He faces 25 to 99 years in prison when he is sentenced on August 12 before Judge William Knight.

During the trial, which began Monday, Assistant District Attorneys Will Macke and Tiffany Dover argued that Bennett manipulated the trust of the victim’s family members and took advantage of the victim for his own sexual gratification.

The jury deliberated for 25 minutes before returning the verdict of guilty. The case was investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.

 

Slidell Man Convicted of Indecent Behavior with a Juvenile And Drug Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 5, 2019

COVINGTON- District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish Jury convicted Lenard “Andy” Turpin, 52, of Slidell, Thursday (August 1) of Attempted Indecent Behavior with a Juvenile under 13, Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substance, and two counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine to Persons Under the Age of 18.

Turpin faces up to 12½ years for Indecent Behavior, up to two years for the Possession charge, and 10 to 30 years for Distribution when he is sentenced Sept. 9 by District Judge Scott Gardner.

On June 1, 2017, Turpin picked up multiple juveniles, almost all under the age of 13, under the pretense that they would be attending his son’s birthday party at his home. When the teens arrived to Turpin’s home in Slidell, they found that no birthday party was underway, and Turpin’s son was not even home. Turpin began indulging and providing alcohol and marijuana to the underage children while making lewd and inappropriate comments to the girls.

Turpin then brought two of the juveniles upstairs, where he coerced them to smoke methamphetamine and attempted to get them to perform sexual acts on each other. Later, Turpin also groped and touched one of the girls while making sexual comments about her body. Turpin then brought the same victim upstairs and had her smoke meth with him.

The victims were eventually picked up by one of their grandparents and soon afterwards, their parents and police were notified. One of the juveniles was taken to the hospital, where she tested positive for meth. On June 2, 2017, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies conducted a search at Turpin’s residence, and found meth in his nightstand. Turpin was then arrested.

On the first day of trial Tuesday (July 30), Assistant District Attorneys Casey Dieck and Luke Lancaster laid the foundation of their case, explaining the manipulative methods that Turpin used to coerce the families of the victims to allow Turpin to take them to his home.

“This is a case of ‘A Tale of Two Turpins,’ who Mr. Turpin wants you to think he is, and who he actually is,” Dieck began in her opening statement. Through the course of the trial, prosecutors provided testimony from both witnesses and victims about the sexual conduct of Turpin, as well as physical evidence of the tools used to smoke the methamphetamine.

“Mr. Turpin is a predator, and we can’t allow that,” Lancaster said in closing. “We can believe his ridiculous version of events, or we can believe these girls, whose story hasn’t changed in these last two years.”

After more than four hours of deliberation, the jury returned its guilty verdicts.

Jury Finds Father Guilty of First-Degree Murder In Death Of 6-Week Old Son

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 19, 2019

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Anthony Dearmas, 27, of New Orleans, guilty Friday (July 19) of first-degree murder in the death of his son, 6-week-old Karter Smith. Dearmas faces mandatory life in prison with no possibility of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence when he is sentenced Aug. 19 before District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher.

In the early morning of May 10, 2017, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies were called to a mobile home in Slidell, where they found the severely injured child. The baby’s mother testified that she had left the 6-week-old twins and her 3-year-old son home with Dearmas while she went to work. She testified that she was still at work when she received a call from Dearmas, who said that Karter, one of the twins, wasn’t breathing.

The panicked mother then called a relative, who lived with them in the mobile home and was returning home when he got the telephone call. He testified that when he walked in the house, he found Dearmas, sitting on the sofa and staring blankly at the child, who was already turning blue.

The relative called 9-1-1, but when paramedics arrived, Dearmas angrily tried to prevent them from administering medical treatment to Karter.  A deputy on the scene ultimately grabbed the car seat, carrying the injured child, from the hands of Dearmas so that paramedics could assist. The infant later died from his injuries.

When questioned by police, Dearmas initially stated that he had gone to take a shower and that Karter’s 3-year-old sibling had picked him up and dropped him twice. But Dearmas changed his story multiple times, ultimately admitting that he became frustrated because he could not soothe the screaming child, and struck him twice, knocking him to the floor.

Defense attorneys argued that Karter’s death was a manslaughter, not first-degree murder because Dearmas did not intend to kill the child. Prosecutors rebutted those claims, presenting autopsy photos that captured the severity of the child’s injuries, which included seven skull fractures. Prosecutors also showed Dearmas’s videotaped statements to police in which he admitted to striking the child, walking away to calm himself, but then returning to strike the crying child again

“You don’t get to hit a baby, crush the entire right side of his skull and then say, ‘I didn’t intend to kill him,’” Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai said during his closing argument.

Defense attorneys also argued that Dearmas’s judgment was impaired because of diminished mental capacity. Ghai and Assistant District Attorney Blake Peters, who assisted in the prosecution, presented psychiatrists who testified that they found Dearmas was mentally competent enough at the time of the crime to understand right from wrong.

The jury deliberated about 1½ hours before voting 11 to 1 in favor of the first-degree murder conviction, rejecting Dearmas’s claim that he was not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.