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Feb. 8, 2019

Washington Parish Jury Finds Bogalusa Man Guilty of Obscenity

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a Washington Parish jury found Marlon D. Harwell, 58, of Bogalusa, guilty of obscenity Wednesday (Feb. 6) for an incident that occurred outside his apartment last year. Harwell faces from 20 years to life in prison as a multiple offender when he is sentenced May 3.

The Bogalusa Police Department had received numerous complaints from neighbors and parents who had seen Harwell masturbating in public view, while looking at schoolchildren boarding the bus at two bus stops near his apartment. Det. Jeffrey Bergeron periodically drove around the area, but could see Harwell only sitting in an SUV. But on June 26, 2018, Harwell was caught in the act on the back porch of his home about 7:28 a.m., as Bergeron observed from a neighbor’s window. Bergeron immediately placed Harwell under arrest.

A pretrial motion, filed by the state, allowed the introduction of evidence from four of Harwell’s previous convictions: obscenity in 2014, 2004, and 1998, and indecent behavior with juveniles in 1994. Harwell also has a pending case of indecent behavior with a juvenile, in which he is accused of abusing a child.

The jury deliberated a half-hour before finding him guilty of obscenity.  Assistant District Attorney David Weilbaecher, Jr., prosecuted the case before District Judge William Burris.

Madisonville Man Pleads Guilty To 500 Counts of Possessing Child Pornography


Feb. 5, 2019

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced that Ryan Horak, 21, of Madisonville, pleaded guilty Tuesday (Feb. 5) as charged to 500 counts of possession of pornography involving juveniles under the age of 13.

Horak faces 10 to 40 years in prison without probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. He will be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years after his release.

The investigation began when the Attorney General’s Office was alerted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a St. Tammany Parish resident was uploading thousands of images of suspected child pornography to his Dropbox account. Supervisory Special Agent Brian Brown of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office investigated the case.

Assistant District Attorneys Holly McGinness and Josephine Heller were prepared for trial with witnesses and evidence, when the defendant decided to plead guilty as charged Tuesday, just before the jury panel entered the courtroom. His sentencing hearing will be held in April.

Jury Finds Pearl River Man Guilty of Killing Ex-Wife and Her Boyfriend


Feb. 1, 2019

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Jason Matthew Magee, 39, of Pearl River, guilty of two counts of first degree murder for shooting his estranged wife and her boyfriend to death in 2017.

The unanimous jury verdicts concluded a weeklong trial before District Judge August Hand, who set Magee’s sentencing date for April 8. Magee faces mandatory life in prison.

Montgomery thanked his team of prosecutors, Assistant District Attorneys Blair Alford and Criminal Division Chief Collin Sims, as well as the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, for a thorough and comprehensive investigation and presentation of the evidence.

“This is a bittersweet victory because it doesn’t bring back the two young lives that were violently taken away,” Montgomery said. “But we pray that this unanimous verdict helps the victims’ family members heal.”

Magee and his former wife, Jennifer Wallace Magee, a 32-year-old nurse, had been separated for more than a year and were going through a divorce when the crime occurred on June 19, 2017. Jason Magee had spent that afternoon out with their two children, ages 6 and 8, and they were saying goodnight to their mother over the telephone in Magee’s truck when one of them asked to speak to her boyfriend. Magee grew enraged, drove the children to his parents’ home in Pearl River, and then drove a short distance away to Jennifer’s home. Magee kicked his way into the home and, as prosecutors described, executed both victims with “military precision” in one minute and 34 seconds.

The shootings left Jennifer Magee and Donald R. Gros, then a 34-year-old EKG technician, dead of multiple gunshot wounds.

“The defendant decided to take the lives of Jennifer Wallace Magee and Donald Gros for no other reason than he was mad,” Alford said in her opening statements to the jury.

The jury rejected claims by Magee’s lawyers that he was acting in self defense after Gros pointed a gun at him and a scuffle broke out. Alford and Sims presented evidence showing that the 9mm shell casings found at the crime scene matched a partially-empty box found in Jason Magee’s gun cabinet.  The gun and Magee’s truck were never found. Crime scene photos also showed no signs of a struggle, including a doll house with all of its miniature pieces still in place next to where Gros fell. A game system remote lay next to his hand.

After the murders, Magee confessed to his stepfather that he had shot his ex-wife. Magee fled, but with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Task Force and the Pearl River Police Department, he was arrested after emerging from the woods.

Grand Jury Indicts Franklinton Man On Charges Of Raping Two Girls


Jan. 31, 2019

Grand Jury Indicts Franklinton Man On Charges Of Raping Two Girls

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a Washington Parish grand jury indicted Lucas Damon Thomas, 36, of Franklinton, on charges of first degree rape of a victim under 13, sexual battery of a victim under 13, second degree rape, and sexual battery.

Thomas is accused of raping and committing sexual battery on a 10-year-old girl between December 1, 2017, and Sept. 9, 2018. He is also is accused of raping and committing sexual battery on a 15-year-old girl between June 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2018.

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

Franklinton Man Gets 70 Years in Prison For Killing His Mother, Injuring Two Others


Jan. 31, 2019

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced that Christopher Rashad Dillon, 25, of Franklinton, abruptly pleaded guilty Tuesday (Jan. 29) near the end of his second day of trial for shooting his mother to death and injuring two others, including a Franklinton police officer.

District Judge Scott Gardner sentenced Dillon to a total of 70 years in prison without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

“I’m glad we were able to achieve some measure of closure for the family of the deceased,” Montgomery said of the plea agreement.

On Dec. 19, 2013, Dillon went to a neighbor’s home and shot the man, while attempting to rob him. The gunshot shattered the victim’s right arm and forced him to have to learn how to use his left hand. Dillon then returned to his home two blocks away and shot his mother, Robin Dillon, as he rummaged through her purse. In a statement to a medical official, Dillon said his mother was shot as she grabbed for her purse.

Franklinton Police Department officers arrived at the scene, and Dillon pretended he was going to surrender to them. Instead, he fired a shot, striking Sgt. Chad Dorsett in the forearm. The bullet passed through Dorsett’s arm and was stopped by his bullet-proof vest. Dillon prevented officers from entering the residence by claiming he was holding his mother hostage. Unbeknownst to officers, she already had been shot and lay dying on the floor of her bedroom. She eventually succumbed to her injuries. After about an hour of the standoff, Dillon started a fire in his mother’s bedroom, and crawled through his bedroom window as the trailer home became engulfed in flames. He was arrested by officers on the scene.

The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted on the scene, and the Louisiana State Police investigated the case, since it involved the shooting of a Franklinton Police officer.

Dillon initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was judged incompetent to proceed with the process. But an intensive review of his mental status by state mental health professionals later determined that Dillon was exaggerating the extent of his mental illness, and the case was sent back to District Court for trial. Assistant District Attorneys Casey Dieck and David Weilbaecher, Jr., prosecuted the case.

Dillon was sentenced to 40 years in prison for manslaughter, 50 years for two counts of attempted first degree murder, and 49½ years for one count of attempted armed robbery, all of which are to be served at the same time. But consecutive to those sentences, he also was ordered to serve 20 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The surviving victims and a relative of the homicide victim were present in court and supported the terms of the plea and the sentences.

Grand Jury Indicts 5 Former Deputies, 16 Inmates In Jail Rape and Beating


Jan. 28, 2019

Grand Jury Indicts 5 Former Deputies, 16 Inmates In Jail Rape and Beating

FRANKLINTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced that a Washington Parish grand jury indicted five former deputies with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office and 16 inmates Monday (Jan. 28) in connection with a rape and a beating at the parish jail last year.

The following former deputies were charged with malfeasance in office for “intentionally performing any duty lawfully required of him/her in an unlawful manner or by intentionally refusing or failing to perform any duty lawfully required of him/her, as such an officer or employee” between September 4, 2018, and September 5, 2018:

  • Frank Smith, 22, of Mount Hermon
  • Elliot Smith, 21, of Mandeville
  • John Donaldson, 30, of Franklinton
  • Pamela P. Willis, 48, of Tylertown, Miss.

Another former deputy Austin Rogers, 19, of Franklinton, was also charged with malfeasance in office for a time period between July 26, 2018, and September 5, 2018. Frank Smith and Elliot Smith also were charged with aggravated second degree battery for using a power cord to harm the victim between July 26, 2018, and September 5, 2018.  In addition, Frank Smith was charged with second degree battery on the same victim between July 26, 2018, and September 5, 2018.

The following inmates were charged with simple battery for the incident that occurred in the jail between September 4, 2018, and September 5, 2018:

  • Toby J. Walker, 38, of Bogalusa
  • Quenterrius K. McGowan, 27, of Angie
  • Andre D. Lucas, 27, of Bogalusa
  • Latrevious Lucas, 19, of Bogalusa
  • Yamarai A. Brumfield, 23, of Bogalusa
  • Eddie Jackson, 18, of Bogalusa
  • Ja’Vontay M. Owens, 25, of Bogalusa
  • Charles E. Ross, 41, of Bogalusa
  • Deonta L. Lee, 33, of Franklinton
  • Jackie Spikes, 17, of Angie
  • Tramale D. Jenkins, 27, of Franklinton
  • Russell L. Daniels, 25, of Franklinton
  • Tyreef J. Williams, 19, of Bogalusa
  • Dakeithan D. Matthews, 23, of Bogalusa
  • Kevin T. Crutchfield, Jr., 19, of Bogalusa

Walker and another inmate, Samuel E. White, 19, also were charged with first degree rape of another victim during the same incident on or about Sept. 5, 2018.

Slidell Man Gets 30 Years In Prison For Death of Mandeville Teen Who Smoked Mojo


COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that Jamie D. Cooper, 35, of Slidell, pleaded guilty Friday (Jan. 4) to negligent homicide and distribution of synthetic marijuana for providing the drugs that led to the death of a Mandeville teenager in 2016. Cooper was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The crime came to the attention of the Covington Police Department on March 13, 2016, when officers were called to the Columbia Landing, where they discovered the unresponsive body of a 17-year-old Mandeville boy. Another teenager, who had called the police, admitted that he and his friend had smoked a brand of synthetic marijuana, known as Mojo. The surviving teen said he passed out and awakened to find his friend on top of him in a ditch filled with water. The boy later was pronounced dead at a St. Tammany hospital.

The teens had bought the drugs for $20 from a middle man, Jarbari Pea, 25, of Covington, who pleaded guilty in May 2017 to negligent homicide and Distribution of Synthetic Cannabinoids (Schedule 1) for his role in the crime. Pea was sentenced to five years in prison on the negligent homicide charge and 10 years, with five of them suspended, on the distribution charge. His sentences are to be served concurrently.

Cooper provided the Mojo to Pea, and both men walked away with $10.

As part of the plea agreement, District Judge Scott Gardner sentenced Cooper as a second felony offender to five years in prison on the negligent homicide count and 30 years on the distribution charge. Both sentences are to be served at the same time without the possibility of sentence reduction for “good time.”

Montgomery said this case should be a warning to students and to the larger community about the danger of the synthetic chemicals found in these manufactured drugs, which respond unpredictably in individuals. “Too many people, especially young people, are underestimating the danger of using marijuana and these synthetic compounds for recreation,” Montgomery said. “The consequences can be serious, even deadly.”

Montgomery pointed to another case that involved Mojo on March 13, 2016, the same day that the teenager died. Ahmad Rashad Johnson, 35, of Covington, gave a woman Mojo and then raped her after she became severely disoriented and ill from the drug. A St. Tammany Parish jury found Johnson guilty of third degree rape the following year.

Former Mandeville Police Officer Found Guilty of Shoplifting


Dec. 20, 2018

Former Mandeville Police Officer Found Guilty of Shoplifting

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that Johnnie A. Sanders, 43, a former Mandeville Police Department officer, was found guilty Tuesday (December 19) of theft for shoplifting from a hardware store.  District Judge Scott Gardner, who presided over the misdemeanor trial, sentenced Sanders to a six-month suspended sentence, one year of probation, and a fine of $200 plus court costs.

The incident occurred Feb. 20, 2017, when Sanders entered the Home Depot, placed a saw and laser measure in his shopping cart, and opened a Rigid drill combo kit. Sanders then removed two batteries, valued at $168, from the kit and placed the batteries under the box that contained the saw. He paid for the saw and laser but made no attempt to pay for the concealed batteries underneath the other merchandise. Sanders exited the store without paying for the batteries. The theft was captured on surveillance video.

Assistant District Attorney Darrell Sims prosecuted the case. 

Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker issued the following statement:  “On behalf of the men and women of the Mandeville Police Department, I would like to thank District Attorney Montgomery’s office for the successful prosecution of Mr. Sanders. As I have previously stated at the time of Sanders’ termination, those who break the very laws that they are sworn to enforce will not be tolerated by myself nor this agency.”

Grand Jury Indicts Slidell Man In Separate Rapes of Two Juvenile Girls


December 13, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted James Bishop, 67, of Slidell, Wednesday (Dec. 12) of two counts of aggravated rape of a victim under 13, two counts of molestation of a juvenile, and production of pornography involving juveniles.

Bishop is accused of molesting and raping two girls on separate occasions over a period of years from the time the girls were ages 8 and 9. 

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