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Month: August 2015

Two Repeat Offenders Face Up To Life in Prison After Convictions

James Spikes Sr.
James Spikes Sr.

COVINGTON—A Washington Parish jury found James Spikes, 58, of Bogalusa, guilty Tuesday (August 25) of distribution of oxycodone during a 2013 undercover operation in his hometown. A separate jury found Shawnathan Fabre, 25, of Covington, guilty of possessing a firearm as a felon, a second offense possession of marijuana, and attempted aggravated assault with a firearm. As repeat offenders, both men face up to life in prison.

Spikes was arrested Jan. 28, 2013, after selling one Roxycontin pill for $30 to a confidential informant as part of the Washington Parish Drug Task Force operation. Spikes has 17 prior felony convictions and a pending first degree murder charge. Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea tried him before Judge Martin E. Coady.

Spikes’ sentencing hearing is set for Sept. 2 at 9 a.m.

Fabre was arrested April 16, 2014, after threatening his girlfriend and her mother with a gun. When Covington police officers stopped him nearby and searched him, they discovered marijuana. Fabre has two prior convictions for second degree battery, and one for distribution of cocaine, and possession of marijuana. He also faces the following pending charges: simple criminal damage to property, unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, and domestic abuse aggravated assault.

Assistant District Attorneys Blake Peters and Joseph Oubre prosecuted the case. Before trial, Fabre turned down a plea offer of 10 years and also rejected a later offer of 15 years. His sentencing is set for Sept. 22.

Earlier this week, Joshua Bruce, 29, of New Orleans, also pled guilty to his third offense for driving while intoxicated. He was driving northbound on the Causeway on April 12, 2015, when police observed him drifting in and out of the left lane. Bruce struck the left curb, and when a Causeway police officer stopped him at the first crossover, Bruce failed a field sobriety test, appeared drowsy and sweaty, and exhibited uncoordinated movements. He later told Causeway Police Department Corporal Mikel Melton that he took three Oxycodone pills a day.

Bruce was sentenced to five years in prison with four of those years suspended. He will spend one year in prison without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension. Upon the completion of his sentence, Bruce is required to enroll in and complete the Sobriety Court Program, pay a $2,000 fine, plus court costs and other special conditions.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Cuccia handled the case.

Pearl River Man Gets 40-year Sentence for Juvenile Molestation

Loren Wright
Loren Wright

COVINGTON—Loren Wright, 35, of Pearl River, pled guilty Wednesday to molestation of a juvenile under 13 in an incident last year. District Judge August J. Hand sentenced Wright to 40 years in prison without the benefit of parole, probation, suspension of sentence, or reduced time for good conduct.

Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea prosecuted the case.

Wright molested a then 12-year-old girl, who was visiting her friend. The girl was alone in her friend’s room in October 2014, when Wright entered the room, made inappropriate advances, lay on top of the girl and began simulating sex. When he heard someone coming down the hallway, he stopped abruptly.

The girl sent a text message telling her friend she would not return to the house because of what happened. When the victim returned to her own home, she also told her sister and mother, who called police.

Wright had pled guilty in two previous cases to indecent behavior with juveniles.

Third Felony Conviction May Land Slidell Man, 24, in Prison for Life

Cornelius Kirsh
Cornelius Kirsh

COVINGTON—Cornelius Kirsh, 24, of Slidell, faces up to life in prison as a three-time multiple felony offender when he is sentenced Sept. 28 for aggravated flight from an officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and attempted aggravated obstruction of a roadway. A St. Tammany Parish jury convicted him Friday afternoon of those charges in connection with an incident last year in Slidell.

Kirsh was the driver of a sports utility vehicle that fled through a residential neighborhood at a high rate of speed on the afternoon of July 30, 2014, after a rear seat passenger shot a firearm from the vehicle. Kirsh was traveling northbound in the southbound lane, but he came to a stop when a backup officer blocked him by approaching head on.

Kirsh has two prior robbery convictions and was tried by Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea before Judge Allison Penzato as a multiple offender, subject to stiffer penalties. Kirsh faces up to life in prison without the benefit of parole.

Slidell Man Is Sentenced to Serve 70 Years in Prison for 2012 Stabbing Death and Fire

Baham Devin
Devin Baham

COVINGTON—Devin Baham, 24, of Slidell was sentenced late Friday to serve 70 years in prison for stabbing a woman to death and setting her Slidell apartment on fire to cover up the crime in 2012.

Judge Allison H. Penzato sentenced Baham, a multiple offender, to 55 years at hard labor on the manslaughter conviction, 15 years for aggravated arson, and 10 years for obstruction of justice. The arson and obstruction of justice sentences are to run concurrently, but they will begin after the manslaughter sentence ends. Assistant District Attorney Jay Adair handled the sentencing.

Baham was convicted in May in the death of Ashley King, who was stabbed 13 times and set on fire in her home in the early morning hours of Feb. 23, 2012. Two other defendants pled guilty for their roles in the crime. Andrew J. Sumner, 22, of Slidell, who pled guilty March 9 to manslaughter, aggravated arson, and obstruction of justice, is set for sentencing Aug. 29. Sumner’s wife, Katelyn Lusich, 21, who pled guilty in November 2014 to obstruction of justice, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Baham and Sumner were best friends on the afternoon of Feb. 22, 2012, when they acted on a plan to rob King of prescription pills and money. King had sold pills to Sumner multiple times before, but she grew suspicious and began asking questions soon after the men entered her apartment. Baham then punched her, grabbed her from behind, and began stabbing her, as Sumner rushed to the kitchen and listened in panic. Sumner took pills and cash from the apartment and fled the scene with Lusich, who at the time was 17 years old, pregnant, and waiting in the car. Once the couple made it to the upscale Slidell home they shared with Sumner’s mother, Lusich stashed the pills and cash in a safe.

Sumner went back to pick up Baham from a park near King’s apartment, and both of them returned to Sumner’s house, where they siphoned gasoline from a boat in the yard. They backtracked to King’s apartment about 4 a.m., and Baham set it on fire.

Firefighters discovered King’s body and determined quickly that an accelerant had been used. Phone records led police investigators to Sumner, who later implicated Baham. Slidell police officers Jim Davis and Sgt. Sean McClain and former Slidell police officer Robert Chadwick investigated the murder.

Franklinton Clerk Admits Stealing Thousands in Water Bill Payments

Carmen Freeman
Carmen Freeman

A longtime clerk for the town of Franklinton pled guilty Monday (Aug. 10) to five charges related to the embezzlement of water bill payments totaling nearly $23,000, which was estimated by a one-year audit. As part of the plea agreement, imposed by Judge Richard Swartz, Carmen Freeman, 39, will spend three years in prison.

Her full sentence and charges were:

  • For theft over $1,500, 10 years in prison (seven of them suspended) and five years of probation
  • For conspiracy to commit theft, five years in prison (all suspended) and five years of probation
  • For first degree injuring public records, five years in prison (all suspended) and five years of probation
  • For conspiracy to commit first degree injuring public records, two years in prison (both suspended) and five years of probation
  • For malfeasance in office, five years in prison (all suspended) and five years of probation.


A complaint to the state legislative auditor about irregular billing and payment accountability at Franklinton’s Water Department prompted an audit of the agency last year. The audit determined that Carmen Freeman and a co-worker did not follow proper billing procedures and misappropriated $22,929. Both women admitted to auditors that they “borrowed” from customer utility collections for their own personal gain.

The Louisiana State Police conducted an investigation. The town clerk examined records back to 2011 and found that the two employees would send duplicate bills to cash-paying customers and re-collect from the same customers. The town ultimately had to wipe all debt collections from the customers at an estimated loss of about $250,000. The women also altered bills to charge customers more than was actually owed, and they presumably pocketed the rest.

Swartz ordered Freeman to pay restitution as a term of probation, but the amount will be set at a future hearing. Her co-worker is scheduled to go to trial in September.







Covington Man Pleads Guilty During Kidnapping and Battery Trial

David S. Temple
David S. Temple

COVINGTON—A 45-year-old Covington man abruptly pled guilty as charged to aggravated second degree battery and second degree kidnapping in the middle of his trial Wednesday, shortly after prosecutors showed photos of the badly-bruised girlfriend the man had tortured in a drunken stupor in 2014.

Judge Allison Penzato sentenced the defendant, as part of the plea agreement, to 15 years on the battery charge and double-billed him on the kidnapping charge with a 60-year sentence, with both to be served concurrently. Penzato also granted the defendant’s request to apologize to his victim, who in September 2014 began living with Temple in a secluded guest house off Highway 1082 near Covington, where the crime occurred.

“I drink. I pass out. Didn’t know nothing,” Temple said through heaving sobs. “Didn’t mean to hurt you… Didn’t mean to hurt none of y’all…I love all of y’all. I’m sorry for my ways.”

Temple faced his former girlfriend, who sat stoically, next to two other women—the one who had helped her finally escape the abuse on Nov. 23 last year and the co-owner of the property where Temple lived and worked as a “cowboy,” which also was his nickname.

In their opening statement and questioning of witnesses, Assistant District Attorneys Jay Adair and William Macke painted a picture of the crime, which began on Nov. 22 last year when Temple drank too much, got angry for some reason and took out his rage on his girlfriend. Temple gashed her head with a flashlight and hit her kneecap repeatedly with a candlestick holder, breaking a bone in her knee. He also put a dog collar around her neck and hooked her to the back of his truck. When he released her from the collar and told her to run, he tried to run over her with his truck. Eventually, he cut off her bloody clothes, forced her to shower in scalding water, and made her clean up the blood. Throughout the ordeal, Temple repeatedly threatened to kill the victim and her then 7-year-old daughter.

The next day, when a neighbor showed up at the house unexpectedly, the victim managed to get her alone momentarily and indicated that she needed help. The two women concocted a plan for the victim’s escape, and both of them spent the night in a Covington hotel. Initially, the victim didn’t want to involve police, but the neighbor said she’d “had enough” and called the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office the next day. The two women had returned to the house to retrieve some of the victim’s belongings and were surprised to find Temple there. He threatened both of them.

The arresting deputy and neighbor both testified before the trial recessed for lunch. When the trial resumed, Temple’s attorney, Ernie Barrow, explained to Penzato that during a frank discussion with his client over the break, Temple spontaneously said he wanted to change his plea to guilty and spare his victim the burden of having to endure the trial. Penzato questioned Temple extensively to assure that he understood what was happening and that the decision to plead guilty was his own. During the questioning, Temple said he’d had only a sixth grade education but that he took care of his own affairs and understood the charges and plea agreement.

While addressing his victim, Temple also apologized and professed his love for his mother, who sat behind him and wept throughout the plea hearing. Temple said he had been “too drunk and too hard-headed to ask for help.”