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D.A. Montgomery Names Shea Penton to Lead Washington Parish Office


July 13, 2018

D.A. Montgomery Names Shea Penton to Lead Washington Parish Office

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that he has named Assistant District Attorney Shea Penton as Administrator of the Washington Parish Office.  Penton will continue to screen cases and prosecute misdemeanors (cases with a sentence no more than six months), but in his new role he also will supervise operations of the Franklinton office.

“Shea was the right person for the job,” Montgomery said.  “He knows and loves the Washington Parish community, and I am confident he will serve it honorably in his new role.”

Penton grew up off William Peters Road in an area of Bogalusa, known as Richardsontown, and he graduated from Bogalusa High School in 1990.  He graduated from Louisiana State University in 1994 and the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson in 1997. Penton worked in private practice for two years and then worked for stints at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services and the Public Defender’s Office, where he handled juvenile cases.

Penton was hired as an Assistant District Attorney in 2003 in the Washington Parish Office, where he has performed a number of jobs, including serving as Prosecutor for two felony dockets, handling misdemeanors, and screening cases.

Penton replaces his mentor, the late Lewis Murray, III, who died suddenly in April. “He trained me to be an A.D.A.,” Penton said of Murray. “I watched him manage this office all these years. I still can’t bring myself to park in his spot.”

District Attorney Warren Montgomery Names Civil Division Chief

July 11, 2018

District Attorney Warren Montgomery Names Civil Division Chief

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced Wednesday that he has named Assistant District Attorney Cary Menard as Chief of the Civil Division, responsible for leading the department whose newly enhanced duties include representing St. Tammany Parish Government.

The Louisiana Supreme Court resolved two years of litigation on June 27, when it confirmed that the Parish’s Home Rule Charter requires the District Attorney to serve as legal advisor to Parish Government. Montgomery had filed suit against the Parish in 2016, when officials rejected his efforts to fulfill his responsibility.

“Now that the issue has been settled, it is time to move forward,” Montgomery said.  “I have complete confidence in Cary’s abilities, based upon his background, vast experience, and his time here in this office. The Parish Government will be well advised and well represented.”

Menard joined the Montgomery Administration in May 2016 as an Assistant District Attorney in the Civil Division, where he advised boards and commissions in St. Tammany and Washington parishes and handled the office’s civil litigation. Before that, he worked for the State Attorney General’s Office as Director of the Complex Litigation Unit.

Menard received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana Lafayette, where he was named “Outstanding Male Graduate,” and he graduated from LSU Law School in 1979.  He worked as a private attorney until 1991, when he accepted a dream job that enabled him to merge his legal career and his love of drag racing.  That job required him to relocate to California to help build the new legal department for the National Hot Rod Association.  Menard was named Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs and spent 14 years in an ever-expanding job.  Menard not only directed the daily activities of general counsel and supervised contract counsel retained for litigation, but he also exercised management oversight of seven company-owned racetrack facilities in five states. He had direct operational and budgetary responsibility of $15 million with 22 direct reports and 119 indirect reports.

In 2003, Menard, a former NHRA race team owner and licensed dragster driver, was inducted into the NHRA Drag Racing Hall of Fame-South Central Region.

After his retirement from the National Hot Rod Association, Menard opened a mortgage company in Los Angeles and later founded a moving company in Maui, Hawaii, where he lived for four years before returning to the mainland.

In January 2018, Menard was promoted to Director of the District Attorney’s Pre-Trial Intervention Program (also known as Diversion). He lives in Mandeville with his wife, Melody, and he is the father of two adult children. Menard joins two other Chiefs on Montgomery’s Executive Team—Chief of Administration Tony Sanders and Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims.



Speeding through North Shore traffic court on the horizon

A new traffic court in St. Tammany Parish will be launched on July 5 in a move designed to fast track cases that do not require a trial. Judge William H. Burris of the 22nd Judicial District will preside over the traffic court.

The new traffic court “is only possible with the help and participation of District Attorney Warren Montgomery‘s Office, St. Tammany Clerk of Court’s Office and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office,” according to a news release from the court administrator’s office.

Read more here:  https://www.nola.com/northshore/inde

Louisiana Supreme Courts Confirms D.A. As Parish’s Legal Advisor


June 27, 2018

District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that the Louisiana Supreme Court has unanimously reversed the judgment of the courts below and rendered a decision, confirming his role as the legal advisor to St. Tammany Parish.

“I attempted to resolve this dispute in a peaceful manner,” Montgomery said in response to the ruling. “After the people’s vote on November 21, 2015, I was compelled to ask the Courts for a judicial clarification of the law.  Now, the state’s highest court has spoken.”

The legal dispute between the District Attorney and Parish Officials centered on the Parish’s Home Rule Charter (Section 4-03 (A), which says, “The district attorney of the judicial district serving St. Tammany Parish shall serve as legal advisor to the council, president and all departments, offices and agencies and represent the Parish government in legal proceedings.”

Before Montgomery took office, the attorneys representing the Parish President and Parish Council were commissioned as Assistant District Attorneys but were not supervised by the previous District Attorney.  After Montgomery’s election in January 2015, he sought to perform his duties as outlined in the Home Rule Charter and re-assert his supervision over the Assistant District Attorneys providing legal services for the Parish. Parish officials objected, arguing that Montgomery’s involvement would infringe on their authority and prerogative.

Parish officials then attempted to change the Home Rule Charter and remove the District Attorney as their legal counsel with an amendment on the ballot during the November 2015 election, but 61 percent of voters rejected the measure.

When parish officials still refused to accept the District Attorney as their legal representative, Montgomery filed a lawsuit in April 2016, asking the courts to interpret whether the Parish’s Home Rule Charter obligates and entitles the District Attorney to serve as the legal advisor.

In the meantime, the Parish Council adopted an ordinance on Aug. 4, 2016, giving itself the power to appoint one or more “council attorneys” to serve as legal advisor to the Council. Then, nearly a month later, the Parish Council adopted another ordinance, delineating the duties and responsibilities of each of the Parish’s offices and departments, including a new Legal Department. The new ordinance deleted the reference to the role of the District Attorney as outlined in the Home Rule Charter and granted the Parish President the authority to appoint a full-time “Executive Counsel” to the President and authorized other attorneys in the Legal Department to serve as legal advisors to the Parish.

Under the new ordinance, the District Attorney would represent Parish Government only at the request of Parish officials.

On Sept. 18, 2016, Ad Hoc Judge Marion F. Edwards decided in a 12-page ruling that the Parish acted within its authority when it created its own legal department and that it has the right to hire its own attorneys.  The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision in a two-to-one decision, with a dissent written by the Chief Judge of the First Circuit.

Montgomery took his case to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which agreed on Jan. 29, 2018, to hear the case. Under the rules of procedure, the Parish has the right to ask for a re-hearing within 14 days of Thursday’s decision.

Montgomery said the most recent decision has brought final resolution to the case, and he looks forward to working together with Parish Government and the Parish Council on a smooth transition and moving ahead in a positive direction.

Man Gets 18 Years in Prison for Killing Pregnant Girlfriend in Car Crash


June 21, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Matthew Oneal, Sr., 26, of Picayune, Miss., was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday (June 20) for vehicular homicide and third degree feticide in the deaths of his girlfriend and their unborn child in a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 59 in Pearl River three years ago.

District Judge Richard A. Swartz, Jr., sentenced Oneal to 18 years on the vehicular homicide charge and five years on the feticide charge, but the sentences are to be served at the same time. Just prior to imposing the sentence, Swartz said this was a “tragic situation” and that any lesser sentence would deprecate the serious nature of the offenses.

The 19-year-old victim was eight months pregnant when she was killed in the crash.  She and the couple’s two-year-old son were in an SUV, being operated by Oneal on the night of February 29, 2015.  Oneal crossed the center line and struck a tree on the opposite side of the road and ended up in a ditch. The victim was killed instantly. The 2-year-old was secured in a car seat and did not suffer any serious injuries.

Oneal attempted to flee after the accident, leaving his family at the scene. He was apprehended by good Samaritans on the scene. His blood tested positive for synthetic cannabinoids.

The victim’s family attended the sentencing hearing, and her grandmother gave a victim impact statement to the court prior to sentencing. Her grandmother said that although the victim’s life ended that night “on the side of the road in a wet ditch,” for her family, especially her surviving child, this tragedy continues. “We have to live with what happened that night for the rest of our lives,” she said.

The defendant also gave a statement, apologizing for his actions. He said he misses the victim every day.

Oneal pleaded guilty March 5 before Swartz, who ordered a pre-sentencing investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Becky Jo Hollen, who was assisted by Assistant District Attorneys Luke Lancaster and Holly McGinness.

Jury Finds Woman Guilty of Killing Best Friend’s Fiancé


June 15, 2016

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Margaret Stockstill, 33, of Franklinton, guilty of second degree murder in the death of her best friend’s fiancé.  Stockstill faces a mandatory life sentence when she appears before District Judge Peter J. Garcia for sentencing Aug. 16.

The weeklong trial centered on what happened the night of April 14, 2017, when Stockstill shot Cody Couch, 27, to death.  The jury rejected Stockstill’s claims that she shot Couch in self-defense.

“She was going to get the last word no matter what,” Assistant District Attorney Blair Alford argued in her closing statement. “She was mad, yes. Justified, no.”

Alford, assisted by Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Authement, argued that Couch’s fiancée, Kristin Copeland, initially planned to spend the evening with Couch and Stocksill, playing cards and drinking at home in Folsom.  But things went awry when Couch instead left home to play pool at a bar with friends. Copeland testified that she became angry when he did not respond to her repeated calls and text messages. She then sent him a text message that said she was ending the relationship and burning his clothes and a photo of the burning clothes.  Couch returned to the house around 10 p.m., and an argument broke out between him and the two women.

Copeland testified that when Stockstill pulled out her gun, Couch threw out his hands and said: “What are you going to do? Shoot me?” Stockstill fired a shot, striking Couch in the lower abdomen.

Alford and Authement argued that the evidence showed that Couch was the one under attack by the two women, who had once shared a brief romantic relationship. The prosecutors played and dissected a cell phone videotape that Stockstill captured in the moments before shooting Couch. Before shutting off the video, Stockstill can be heard saying: “Got your a–!”

The jurors deliberated less than an hour before returning the verdict.

“This was a difficult case, but the successful prosecution is due to the thoroughness of the investigation and the preparation of my two Assistant District Attorneys, Blair Alford and Elizabeth Authement,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “We’re blessed to have a high-performance team of prosecutors at the D.A.’s Office.”

Grand Jury Indicts Father Accused of Killing Infant Son


June 14, 2016

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Corey Michael Nauck, 25, of Folsom, Thursday (June 14) of first degree murder in the death of his seven-month-old son.

Nauck is accused of beating the infant, who had been left in his care at the family’s Folsom home on Feb. 26. The child died two days later.

Five People Indicted in February Murders of Two Pearl River Friends


June 14, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted four people Thursday (June 14) in the kidnapping and murders of two Pearl River residents in February and another person with assisting after the fact. The defendants and their charges are:

• Jason David Landry, 18, of Slidell, two counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery with a firearm,

• Brittney Michelle Savell, 26, of Slidell, two counts of second degree murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery with a firearm,

• Derrion Joseph Lemoine, 23, of Big Spring, Texas, two counts of second degree murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery with a firearm, obstruction of justice by tampering with evidence, and possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon,

• Steven Lee Olivieri, 27, of Slidell, first degree murder, obstruction of justice by tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon, and manufacture or possession of a bomb,

• James Keith Mitchell, 30, of Slidell, accessory after the fact and manufacture or possession of a bomb,

Landry, Savell, Lemoine, and Olivieri are accused in the murders of Reagan Elizabeth Day, 20, of Pearl River, and her friend, Dustin Ross Hartline, 28, of Pearl River. Day and Hartline were reported missing Feb. 16, and their bodies were found nearly three weeks later in Day’s car, submerged in the East Pearl River. Both had been shot in the head.

Jason Landry et al Indictment (2)