Louisiana news briefs
in deadly 2010 armed robbery
GRETNA (AP) — A 21-year-old Kenner man faces spending the rest of his life in prison for shooting two people during an armed robbery attempt, killing one of them and injuring the other.
Joseph Humbles was convicted Saturday night in a Jefferson Parish courtroom of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and attempted armed robbery, in connection with the Oct. 28, 2010, crime in Kenner.
Humbles, who was 18 years old at the time, was one of two men charged in the death of 49-year-old Walter D. Bailey also of Kenner, the wounding of Bailey’s 57-year-old friend.
The jury deliberated almost three hours before returning with its verdict.
Judge Ross LaDart is scheduled to sentence Humbles on May 5.
Work continues to fill gaps in Terrebonne levee protection
HOUMA — The Terrebonne Parish Levee District is continuing to fill gaps in the parish’s primary defenses against flooding.
The district recently awarded construction contracts for a 4.5-mile stretch of levees across the bottom of the Lake Boudreaux basin south of Dulac.
The stretch will effectively cap the bottom of the basin, which in the past has been an easy conduit for storm surge to pile upon the surrounding communities.
Levee District Director Reggie Dupre says the only thing they are waiting for is design of the Bayou Four Point floodgate. He says the protective levees around it won’t be ready this hurricane season.
Bats make home
at Dutchtown High
DUTCHTOWN — Furry, winged creatures about 4 inches in length with a love of mosquito dinner have found a home and a bathroom at Dutchtown High School.
Ten to 20 Mexican free-tailed bats, also known as Brazilian free-tailed bats, have been roosting behind the gutters of a building housing the school’s two gyms and band and choir rooms.
State health officials said the bats can pose a health concern because a small percentage of bats carry rabies.
The Ascension Parish School Board agreed to close the gym building after an inspection Thursday by the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
A school system spokesman said he could not say when work on the gym will be finished but he does not expect it to be “a long-term issue.”
voter fraud in Port Allen
PORT ALLEN (AP) — Authorities say the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office have launched an investigation into allegations of voter fraud in the Port Allen mayoral race.
Col. Richie Johnson said the investigation began late Thursday after the sheriff’s office received multiple complaints about hundreds of mail-in and faxed requests for early voting ballots that did not match voter information on file with the parish registrar.
Johnson said at least one of the ballots under review in the special election is from someone tied to the campaign of former Mayor Demetric Slaughter, who is seeking re-election after her recall.
Slaughter said she has contacted her lawyer and urged him to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning voter intimidation.
Drainage work closes road
HOUMA (AP) — Authorities in Terrebonne Parish say St. Louis Canal Road has been closed between Westview Drive and Westside Boulevard in Houma while construction on drainage improvements is underway.
Officials have no definitive timeline for reopening the road, but say the drainage work should be completed by late April.
2 dead in bridge crash
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Baton Rouge police say a 38-year-old Baton Rouge man is accused of killing two people and injuring three by driving while drunk.
Police spokesman L’Jean McKneely said Dedrick Matthews was booked with vehicular homicide, vehicular negligent injury and second-offense DWI after his vehicle rear-ended another. Two of the other vehicle’s occupants died.
McKneely identifies them as 26-year-old Johnny Galmon of Baton Rouge and 19-year-old Kandace Cox, no address provided. The accident occurred about 2:45 a.m. Sunday on the Mississippi River Bridge.
McKneely says Matthews is in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. He doesn’t know whether Matthews has an attorney.
McKneely says one occupant of Matthews’ vehicle and two in the other were taken to a hospital, but their injuries were not life-threatening.
Teen shooting victims ID’d
BAKER (AP) — Police in Baker, La., say two teenage boys and a 15-year-old girl killed at a private birthday party in Baker were from nearby cities.
Chief Mike Knaps says in an email Sunday that investigators are still interviewing witnesses and don’t yet know a motive for the shooting late Friday.
He says the dead girl, Marcell Franklin, was from Zachary. He says 15-year-old Kendal Dorsey and 18-year-old Diontrey Claiborne both were from Baton Rouge.
Knaps says 19-year-old Javaughn Simmons, who survived being shot, is from Baker.
He says a 16-year-old boy has been booked with first-degree murder, attempted murder and illegal use of a firearm. His name was withheld because he’s a juvenile.
Simmons said he did not recognize the person he saw shooting.
2 vie for chief in Arnaudville
ARNAUDVILLE (AP) — A retired sheriff’s deputy and Arnaudville’s interim police chief are vying to complete the year as the city’s police chief.
Eddy LeCompte faces interim Chief Kenneth “Toby” Wetzel in the April 5 special election to replace former Chief Richard Mizzi.
Mizzi retired in September 2013 in the face of a recall petition drive against him.
While in office, Mizzi frequently clashed with Arnaudville City Council members. Residents also claimed Mizzi often failed to respond to calls and even told officers to turn back from calls at times.
Mizzi’s assertions that he didn’t have the budget to run regular patrol routes clashed with the council’s allotment of more money to the police department.
He announced his retirement at about the time opponents submitted a recall petition.
LeCompte, whose family moved out of Arnaudville when he was 10, retired from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office last September and moved back to a home his family bought shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
LeCompte said his other goals include bridging relationships with both the St. Landry Parish and St. Martin Parish sheriff’s offices because the town is part of both parishes, creating a “town watch” program similar to Neighborhood Watch programs in other cities and instituting a procedure for officers to conduct regular safety checks on the town’s large elderly population.
Wetzel, who was already an officer with the Arnaudville Police Department when appointed interim chief last October, said he has lived in Arnaudville almost his entire life. He said he had to hit the ground running.
“We’re trying to build up on what the last chief neglected,” he said.
Wetzel said he is focused on rebuilding the Police Department’s relationship with sheriff’s offices in the region.
Because this is a special election to fill a term, the Arnaudville police chief’s job will be up for election again this fall.
School work on scheduled despite weather
RACELAND (AP) — Construction of the new Raceland Lower Elementary School is still on schedule for completion in January despite the wet winter.
Project architect Skipper Holloway said work on the $11.7 million project is about 30 percent complete.
“The weather conditions have extended into our spring and that has caused a little bit of problem with the mud on the building, but we’re still on schedule and they’re working on the site,” Holloway said.
He said work has been finished on the roof structure and the metal deck and is proceeding on walls.
Construction of the 55,683-square-foot building began in June 2013. The school, being built behind the existing Raceland Upper School on Louisiana Highway 308, will have 30 classrooms, a computer lab and a cafeteria-auditorium. There will be a separate mechanical services building.
The existing decades-old lower elementary school is overcrowded and there is no room at the site for expansion.
School Superintendent Jo Ann Matthews said she’s happy with progress to date on the new building.