Psych exam ordered for Norco murder suspects

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2011



HAHNVILLE – A St. Charles Parish judge has thrown out an indictment in adult court for two teenagers accused of killing an elderly Norco woman inside her home last November.

Judge Robert Chaisson of the 29th Judicial District granted a motion by the defense to void the first-degree murder indictment of Daniel Deese and Braiden Sumrall. The two 16-year-olds are accused in the death of 77-year-old Mary Nancy Arico, who was found stabbed and beaten to death in her home in November.

According to the St. Charles Clerk of Court’s office, Deese and Sumrall were indicted by a St. Charles Parish grand jury on Dec. 15, and the case was moved to adult court. In the motion to void that indictment, Sumrall’s attorney, Christina Lewis, noted a motion for a mental examination and sanity hearing for both teens was filed in juvenile court on Dec. 14. The case is now on hold pending the findings of the sanity hearing for the teens in juvenile court.

If the teenagers are found competent in juvenile court, the district attorney’s office can again seek a first-degree murder indictment in adult court. If the two are found to be incompetent, state law requires the proceedings to be suspended and gives the court the option of dismissing the case, putting the teenagers in the custody of a state agency, committing them to a mental health facility or placing them in the custody of their parents or another person or agency and setting conditions, such as outpatient treatment.

Deese and Sumrall are being held at the St. Bernard Parish Juvenile Detention Facility without bond while the mental examination and sanity hearing takes place.

Also charged in the case are Deese’s sister, Pauline Deese, and a 14-year-old girl. Pauline Deese, who is being tried as an adult because she was 17 when she allegedly participated in the crime, is charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and obstruction of justice. A status conference on her case scheduled for Tuesday was pushed back because her attorney was not present. Pauline Deese has been free since January after posting bond.

The 14-year-old girl is charged with principal to first-degree murder, and her case will be heard in juvenile court.

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 saw Daniel Deese emerge from the house covered in blood.

Court documents reported 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 her brother killed an elderly woman in the area.

Arico’s body was not discovered until nearly three weeks after the murder 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.

A gag order has been issued at the request of the district attorney’s office to prohibit authorities talking to the media about the case.