Louisiana news briefs
La. College interim president takes control
PINEVILLE (AP) — Louisiana College’s interim president hopes to implement strong organizational and planning practices and forge a connection with the college’s stakeholders while he is in the role.
Argile Smith also pledged his office will be open and transparent, something that some students and alumni felt was an issue under the previous administration.
Smith took over for outgoing president Joe Aguillard on June 1. He officially becomes interim president on Aug. 1, when Aguillard becomes president emeritus for the college. Aguillard will remain a tenured faculty member in the school’s graduate education program.
The length of the search for the new president has yet to be determined, but Smith should have plenty to do in the interim.
Harbor police: Body pulled from Miss. River Sunday
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Harbor Police are investigating the body of a man pulled from the Mississippi River near the Gov. Nicholls Street Wharf.
Matthew Gresham, a Harbor Police spokesman, said the body was covered around 5 p.m. Sunday.
Gresham says the body had been in the water for some time.
John Gagliano, chief investigator for the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office, said the body has not yet been identified and an autopsy will be performed today.
Construction on Houma church nears completion
HOUMA (AP) — After a 2010 fire destroyed their church, parishioners of St. Matthew’s Episcopal in Houma look forward to returning to their former location in the coming weeks.
The Rev. Craig Dalferes, rector at St. Matthew’s, said the new school building and parish hall will be completed by the start of the start of the school year in August.
Dalferes also estimated the church will be completed around December as the building’s interior will need additional work.
The fire began in the church and spread to one wing of the school, which burned through the roof, causing the building’s collapse.
St. Matthew’s, which was listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, was Terrebonne’s second oldest church.
Home invasion victim shoots suspect
NEW IBERIA (AP) — Iberia Parish sheriff’s deputies say the victim of a home invasion gained control of an intruder’s rifle and shot him.
Lt. Richard Fleming said deputies were called late Friday night to a New Iberia home.
Deputies learned that three men entered the home, where three adults and two children were inside.
Fleming says one of the men inside the home struggled with suspect Darteze Jack, got control of the rifle and shot him.
The 25-year-old Jack, of Lake Charles, is being treated at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Lafayette.
Deputies arrested a second suspect, 19-year-old Devon Moore, of New Iberia. Moore was booked with home invasion and attempted first-degree murder.
Police continue to search for the third suspect.
Houma bridge closing
HOUMA (AP) — Transportation officials say the Houma Navigation Canal Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic from June 20 through July 21.
The closing will allow the state Department of Transportation and Development crews to do structural, mechanical and electrical work as part of a $9.9 million state-funded upgrade of the bridge.
The bridge is expected to reopen on July 21.
revenue increased in 2013
THIBODAUX (AP) — Band-Aid efforts have slowed the city of Thibodaux’s spending, but officials remain adamant that there will have to be revenue increases or service cuts to balance the budget within the next year.
The 2013 audit of city government finances says city revenue increased by $3.3 million from 2012 to 2013 while spending increased by about $800,000.
The city ended 2013 with $60.4 million in net assets, down from $61.2 million at the end of 2012. Of that, $9.2 million can be used on expenses.
City officials said the rise in expenses is tied to increasing personnel benefits.
The city’s 2014 budget projects spending $35 million, up about 22 percent compared to last year and revenue is estimated down about 6 percent.
Florida woman booked
in fatal I-10 Basin wreck
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A St. Petersburg, Fla., woman has died after the vehicle in which she was riding struck a guardrail on Interstate 10 and flipped over the side of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.
State Police say in a news release that 25-year-old Mina Bell was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident at 8 p.m. Friday.
State Police spokesman Jared Sandifer says it appears the driver overcorrected, causing the SUV to roll on its side and strike the north guardrail and go over the side of the bridge.
Sandifer says a 7-year-old child had severe injuries while four other children had moderate.
The driver, 24-year-old Lois Rudd of Largo, Florida, was hospitalized until Sunday, when she was booked into the Iberville Parish Jail on five counts of negligent injury, negligent homicide and careless operation.
Murder convictions upheld
LAKE CHARLES (AP) — The Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of two women found guilty of killing a man whose bullet-riddled body was found south of Lake Charles in 2009.
The justices voted 6-1 not to hear appeals for 52-year-old Robyn Little Davis and 47-year-old Carol Noland Saltzman.
Both women are serving life sentences for second-degree murder convictions in the death of Davis’ husband, Brian Davis.
Prosecutors used circumstantial evidence to tie them to the crime, saying possible motives were financial woes, Brian Davis’ extra-marital affairs and life insurance money.
Defense attorney Glen Vamvoras said the central issue of double jeopardy could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He did not say whether he and Shane Hinch will appeal.
Man convicted of manslaughter in 2012 slayings
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 23-year-old man who had been charged with murder has been convicted on lesser charges in a robbery left three people dead and two wounded.
Jubbard Price is scheduled for sentencing June 26 on two counts of negligent homicide and five of simple kidnapping. If sentenced as a repeat offender, he could get up to 70 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors argued that Price held a group hostage inside a home in 2012 while Donald Johnson shot and killed three people, then he, Johnson, and Price’s cousin Andrea Price fled with a safe.
Johnson died in a shootout with police shortly after the shootings in 2012. Andrea Price pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 20-year sentence.
Jurors convicted Price on Friday.
Prosecutors argued that he was a willing participant in the killings.
Defense attorneys argued that Price had only gone to Troy Leslie’s home to smoke marijuana and happened upon the crime because his cousin Andrea Price was dating Johnson.
Prosecutors said Andrea Price and Johnson corralled the people in the house, offering up false pretenses of smoking marijuana while Jubbard Price stood by, armed and waiting in the home’s garage as, one by one, the hostages were forced to join him.
During that time, Johnson shot and killed Leslie, his 20-year-old daughter, Kishaune Keppard, and another man, Reyland “Diggem” Barry, prosecutors said.
No fingerprints or DNA evidence linked Price to the crime and survivors’ testimony was inconsistent, defense attorneys argued.