New Sarpy man charged with murder

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 28, 2002


NEW SARPY – Another picture is coming to light in the death of 18-month-old Derica Wallace of New Sarpy, with the murder suspect’s sister declaring a series of accidents resulted in the child’s death.

Meanwhile, David Lynn Joseph, 22, faces a charge of first-degree murder, after he allegedly beat and choked the toddler Thursday while baby sitting her at the residence he shared with the victim’s mother. The child was taken off life support systems at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, approximately the same time Joseph surrendered to St. Charles Parish authorities.

Joseph, the boyfriend of Jessika Wallace, 20, the child’s mother, had been left in charge of Derica and her two siblings, 6-month-old Tanishia and 3-year-old Derek, while Wallace went to work at the Racetrac convenience store on U.S. Highway 90 in Boutte, minutes from the couple’s New Sarpy home at 928 E. Harding St.

According to Marilyn Joseph, sister of the accused, the couple had an argument over the telephone Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Wallace had called home to ask David Joseph to take out some frozen chicken for supper and he, in response to a phone call earlier in the day from another man, told her to have “him” take out the chicken, according to Marilyn Joseph.

Marilyn Joseph gave Jessika a ride home and the two women discovered Derica unresponsive and only breathing approximately two times per minute. The child was found lying on a pillow on the sofa, Marilyn Joseph said.

David Joseph said Derica had hit her head in the bathtub and when he gave her Tylenol, she fell asleep.

“He kept saying she was sleeping. He just didn’t realize it was as serious as it was,” Marilyn Joseph said.

Jessika responded to that, however, and said, “I know my baby and something’s wrong with her!”

She then attempted to give her daughter mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and according to Marilyn Joseph, the frantic mother’s frenzied efforts possibly caused the bruising and damage to the child’s throat and head.

The other children were unharmed, with little Derek on the floor, eating, and Tanishia on the bed sleeping, at least until Jessika Wallace began to repeatedly scream, Marilyn Joseph said.

Emergency medical technicians who responded to Wallace’s 911 call questioned the suspect’s story and, because he was wanted on a warrant for parole violation in Minden, David Joseph skipped out before St. Charles Parish sheriff’s deputies arrived at the residence. He has a prior conviction for drug possession.

Meanwhile, the accused’s sister said, the EMT’s trying to stabilize the child struck the child’s foot several times to raise a vein to insert an IV, possibly causing the bruising which was later diagnosed.

St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling admitted the child and diagnosed severe brain swelling, retinal hemorrhaging (indicating the child had been choked), and multiple bruising to her face, right ear and feet. In the opinion of the examining doctor, the injuries were “deliberately inflicted.”

Jessika Wallace, originally from Kenner, had a troubled life before coming to New Sarpy, according to Marilyn Joseph. She had two children, Derek and Derica, with Derek Wallace, now serving time in a penitentiary near Opelousas, and she met Marilyn Joseph through mutual friends at the penal facility.

Early last summer, pregnant with Tanishia, Jessika Wallace called upon her friend, Marilyn, to ask for a place to stay. While there, she met David Joseph, also living there, and the couple moved into a trailer rented from Marilyn’s uncle in December 2001, four months after Tanishia’s birth.

Marilyn Joseph said Jessika Wallace tried to conceal her pregnancy from her incarcerated husband, as he was not the father, and even considered giving her up for adoption to a Florida couple. In the end, however, she was persuaded to keep the infant.

Now, according to Marilyn Joseph, Jessika and the surviving children are staying with family in Kenner. David Joseph is in the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center, charged with first-degree murder.

His initial court appearance was Monday and Norco attorney Victor Bradley was assigned to his case as an indigent defender.

The case will go to the St. Charles Parish Grand Jury for possible indictment.

When asked to describe David Joseph as a person, Roger Joseph, one of the suspect’s brothers, said, “He’s good with children. He’s taken care of mine.”