Judge in Norco case recuses self

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2011



HAHNVILLE – A St. Charles Parish judge has recused herself from a murder case involving four teenagers charged in the November beating death of 77-year-old Norco resident Mary Arico, citing a family conflict.

District Judge Lauren Lemmon will no longer preside over the case because her brother, attorney Andrew Lemmon, is handling a civil case for Arico’s family. The case, which involves a 17-year-old girl, two 16-year-old boys, and a 14-year-old girl, will move to Judge Robert Chaisson’s courtroom docket.

The case is still pending a determination as to whether the 16-year-olds, both indicted on first-degree murder charges, will be tried as adults. Daniel Deese and Braiden Sumrall were scheduled for arraignment on Jan. 4, but Lemmon said their case could remain in juvenile court because it is unclear whether the two were entitled to a hearing prior to the indictment. The ruling is still undetermined.

Meanwhile, Deese’s 17-year-old sister Pauline Deese, who was charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and is the only one of the four definitely being tried as an adult in the case, was released from the Nelson Coleman Correctional Facility in Killona after posting bond. Sumrall and Daniel Deese remain incarcerated.

The fourth suspect in the case, the 14-year-old girl, was charged with principal to first-degree murder and will still be tried as a juvenile since her charge does not allow for transfer into adult court, according to St. Charles District Attorney Harry Morel.

Morel and the Chaisson issued a gag order on the case in November that prohibits authorities from talking to the media.

According to court documents, Sumrall, Daniel Deese and the 14-year-old girl went to Arico’s house on Nov. 8 with the intention to get money to help the girl run away from home. The boys knocked on Arico’s door and asked to use her phone. Once inside the home, Sumrall distracted Arico while Deese armed himself with knives and began attacking her.

The girl, who told investigators she stayed outside, said she recalled hearing screaming coming from inside and that Daniel Deese emerged from the house covered in blood.

Court documents say that Pauline Deese, Daniel Deese’s sister, was told of the murder by her brother, but later lied to investigators when questioned about the incident. Authorities said Pauline Deese told friends about the incident saying that her brother killed an elderly woman in the area.

Arico’s body was not discovered until nearly three weeks after her killing, when a sister in New York asked a neighbor to check on her.

The neighbor called police when she got no answer at the door and the responding deputy discovered Arico’s body decomposing on the kitchen floor.

Pauline Deese is next scheduled to be in court March 1 for a status conference.