FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.