Teen accused in Norco murder pleads not guilty

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2011



HAHNVILLE – A teenager accused of destroying evidence and lying to investigators about a murder allegedly committed by her younger brother entered a plea of not guilty during a recent court appearance.

Pauline Deese, 18, entered the plea March 30 in an appearance before 29th Judicial District Judge Robert Chaisson. Deese is facing charges of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and obstruction of justice in connection with the murder of Mary Arico in November.

Her brother, Daniel Deese, and Braiden Sumrall, both 16, are facing first-degree murder charges in Arico’s death. According to court documents, St. Charles Parish investigators believe the two boys and a 14-year-old girl went to Arico’s home in Norco looking for money to help the girl run away from home. Daniel Deese allegedly attacked Arico with several kitchen knives, then hit her in the head with a microwave.

According to court documents, Pauline Deese was told of the murder by her brother but later lied to investigators when questioned about the incident. Authorities said Pauline Deese also burned several articles of clothing and a knife allegedly used in the crime. The burned items were found at an abandoned house near the Desse’s home.

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.

The Deeses, Sumrall and the 14-year-old girl were all arrested just days after Arico’s body was found. Deputies received several tips from the public.

Daniel Deese and Sumrall were initially indicted in adult court, but the case was moved to juvenile court in March pending the results of a sanity hearing requested by the defense. The 14-year-old, who is accused of principal to first-degree murder, will be tried as a juvenile.

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