Louisiana news briefs
Thibodaux woman accused of animal, child cruelty
THIBODAUX (AP) — Police say 35 pets and a young girl were found living in a feces-filled and urine-soaked Thibodaux home that reeked so bad that the child was bullied at school because of it.
The girl’s mother was booked with animal and child cruelty.
Police say 45-year-old Lorencia Raffray was arrested Friday after Thibodaux police got a tip that she was hoarding animals.
Thibodaux police spokesman David Melancon said there were 14 cats, 18 kittens and three dogs inside the home.
The odor could be detected from outside and was so bad inside officers had to step outside several times to get fresh air, he said.
Raffray is free on a $500 bond.
Boy, 13, convicted in sister’s death gets 3 years
GRETNA (AP) — A 13-year-old Terrytown boy who admitted killing his 5-year-old half-sister while practicing wrestling moves was sentenced Tuesday to three years in a secure juvenile facility with credit for time served.
The teenager’s defense team had argued he be offered rehabilitation services in the community.
But Judge Andrea Janzen told the teenager’s attorney that he had given her no evidence to explain how or why the child — described as jovial and outgoing by church members — was so disrespectful and angry at home.
“I just don’t have any information to support that kind of behavior and that is very troubling to me,” she said of the boy, who glowered and balled his fists at his stepfather when attorneys approached the bench.
In a hand-written admission last month, the teenager said he used moves named for wrestlers he saw on TV when he slammed his body or elbow into the little girl’s torso multiple times, stopping only when their mother called to check on him and his sister.
After about 30 minutes, the 13-year-old said the 5-year-old was on the bathroom floor complaining that her stomach was hurting. A short time later, he said he noticed the girl was not breathing, at which time he called 911.
Bell Helicopter announces new assembly facility
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Texas-based Bell Helicopter says it is building a helicopter assembly plant in Lafayette to assemble the company’s new line of SLS — Short Light Single — helicopters.
The project, announced Tuesday by Gov. Bobby Jindal and Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison, will bring the first modern-era aircraft assembly facility to Lafayette Regional Airport.
Bell Helicopter will lease space for its operation in a new $26.3 million, 82,300-square-foot hangar facility at the airport that’s being funded by the state but owned by Lafayette Regional Airport. The facility will be built on a 14.5-acre site that’s located next to U.S. 90.
Construction will begin in the first half of 2014.
The project is expected to create 115 new jobs with average annual salaries of more than $55,000 plus benefits, and invest $11.4 million in equipment and tooling.
Bell Helicopter will produce the five-seat, single-engine turbine helicopter, a contemporary version of the JetRanger, an aircraft built by the company more than 50 years ago.
Louisiana artists snag Grammy nominations
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans songwriter, pianist and producer Allen Toussaint has been nominated for two Grammy awards and he is among several Louisiana artists who are up for one of the music industry’s most coveted awards.
Toussaint’s album, “Songbook,” is up for best Americana album. Toussaint recorded the album, which features solo voice and piano performances, in the fall of 2009 at Joe’s Pub in New York City.
“Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed,” a track on “Songbook,” earned a nomination for best American roots song.
New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band, Zachary Richard, Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr., Hunter Hayes, Tim McGraw, Bobby Rush and New Orleans singer-songwriter Andrew Duhon also earned nominations.
The Grammy Awards will be broadcast Jan. 26.
Iberia plans school improvements
NEW IBERIA (AP) — School officials say work is about to get under way for the first phase of $50 million in school improvement projects Iberia Parish voters approved in October.
Last week, the Iberia Parish School Board approved the sale of $6.3 million in bonds, which enables the district to move forward on three major construction priorities.
Iberia Parish Schools Superintendent Dale Henderson said the major projects include construction of a new auditorium for Jeanerette High School and new stadiums for Westgate High and New Iberia Senior High.
Henderson says the initial bond sale will also jumpstart the purchase and installation of video surveillance cameras for every elementary school in the district.
Lafourche council overrides vetoes
THIBODAUX (AP) — The Lafourche Parish Council reaffirmed its original intentions for the parish’s 2014 budget by overriding all nine of Parish President Charlotte Randolph’s vetoes of about $845,000 in projects Tuesday night.
Most of the vetoes concerned recreation upgrades or facility improvements to parish organizations.
In her justification provided to each councilman, Randolph suggested the individual entities needed to provide their budgets and reasons why they needed the money.
Parish Administrator Archie Chiasson said that by overriding the vetoes the councilmen weren’t guaranteeing the projects’ future but just including them in the budget. The parish can’t go forward with the projects until the legal concerns are answered.
to Coast Guard
LOCKPORT (AP) — Lockport-based Bollinger Shipyards has delivered the Charles Sexton fast-response cutter to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The 154-foot patrol craft, named in honor of a Coast Guard hero, is the eighth vessel in the Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class FRC program.
The vessel has a flank speed of 28 knots, state-of-the art command, control, communications and computer technology, and a stern launch system for its 26-foot cutter boat/
Senior Coast Guard officials have described the fast-response cutter as an operational “game changer.”
The Coast Guard plans to commission the vessel in Key West in March.
No verdict in trial of ex-cop in Katrina shooting
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — For the second time in three years, a federal jury is deliberating whether fear or malice drove a former New Orleans police officer to fatally shoot a man outside a strip mall less than a week after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall.
At the conclusion of David Warren’s retrial Tuesday, a prosecutor said the rookie officer shot and killed 31-year-old Henry Glover because he hated looters and thought nobody would care during the chaotic aftermath of the 2005 storm.
“He shot Henry Glover because he could,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Knight said during her closing arguments. “It was Katrina, and no one was watching.”
Warren’s lawyers urged jurors to consider the hazardous conditions that police officers had to endure after broken levees flooded most of the city and left many desperate residents fighting for survival.
“It was a frightening time, and you’ll never be able to put yourself in the situation of David Warren,” said defense attorney Richard Simmons. “They did the best they could under those trying circumstances while everybody else was watching on TV.”
Warren testified on Monday that he feared for his life when he shot Glover because he thought he saw a gun in his hand, but prosecutors said Glover wasn’t armed and didn’t pose a threat.
Jurors deliberated for about six hours Tuesday before adjourning for the night. They will reconvene Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk said jurors informed him that they hadn’t “moved forward” during their last two hours of deliberations and asked to break for the night. Africk sentenced Warren to nearly 26 years in prison after a different jury convicted him of manslaughter in 2010. But a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his convictions last year, ruling that Warren should have been tried separately from four other former officers who were charged in an alleged cover-up of Glover’s death.
Another former officer, Gregory McRae, was convicted in 2010 of burning Glover’s body in a car after a good Samaritan drove the dying man to a makeshift police station. The same 5th Circuit panel that ordered a new trial for Warren also upheld McRae’s convictions.
Jurors for Warren’s retrial were barred from hearing any testimony about the alleged cover-up, including any references to the burned body. Warren wasn’t charged with participating in a cover-up.
Warren and another officer, Linda Howard, were guarding a police substation at the strip mall on the morning of Sept. 2, 2005, when Glover and another man pulled up in a stolen truck. Warren said he screamed, “Police, get back!” twice after Glover and his friend, Bernard Calloway, exited the truck and started to run toward a gate that would have given them access to the building he was guarding.
Calloway, however, testified that Glover was standing next to the truck and lighting a cigarette when Warren shot him. Howard testified that Glover and Calloway were running away from the building in different directions when Warren opened fire.
Knight said Howard didn’t view Glover as a threat and was horrified by Warren’s actions and his nonchalant response to the shooting.
“The truth is that Officer Howard had absolutely nothing to gain from her testimony,” she said. “It would have been much easier not to get involved. But she couldn’t do that. A man died that day.”
Simmons accused Howard of lying to help prosecutors build a case against Warren.
“To believe Howard, you have to believe her memory improved over time. She adds to the story as she goes,” he said. “Memory doesn’t get better with time. It fades.”
Simmons said it doesn’t make any sense that Warren would decide to shoot Glover without provocation. He accused prosecutors of “Monday morning quarterbacking” in second-guessing Warren’s split-second decision to fire a shot at Glover.
“It’s easy to sit here now and try to reconstruct this, but it all happened so fast for Mr. Warren,” Simmons said.
Justice Department prosecutor Jared Fishman said Glover didn’t have a “death wish,” wouldn’t have charged toward an armed police officer and didn’t deserve to be gunned down when his only offense was “at worst, petty theft.” Glover was anxious to flee New Orleans after the storm and had gone to the strip mall to retrieve a suitcase containing stolen items that a friend had left there earlier that morning, according to prosecutors.
“Henry Glover was not a victim of Hurricane Katrina. Henry Glover was a victim of a bullet shot through that man’s assault rifle,” Fishman said, pointing at Warren.
Jurors also heard testimony from a former officer, Alec Brown, who said Warren told him shortly after the shooting that he believed looters were “animals” who deserved to be shot. Warren denied saying that.
Earlier on the same morning as Glover’s shooting, Warren had fired what he called a “warning shot” at a man who had been riding a bike near the mall. Warren said he knew officers aren’t allowed to fire warning shots, but was worried the man intended to do “something stupid” because he had circled the mall several times.