Murder suspect surrenders to deputies

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 24, 2012



LAPLACE – The 17-year-old LaPlace man accused of shooting and killing an acquaintance in broad daylight after an argument Sunday turned himself in to St. John the Baptist Parish sheriff’s deputies Monday evening.

Spence Adams of Houma Drive reported to the Sherman Walker Correctional Facility just before 7 p.m. Monday, said Sheriff Wayne Jones. Adams, who was booked with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 32-year-old Eric LaBranch of LaPlace, is being held at the jail on a $500,000 bond.

Jones said Tuesday that Adams and LaBranch knew each other, and detectives believe they were arguing Sunday afternoon over a car stereo. Witnesses said the argument escalated quickly, and Adams pulled out a gun and shot LaBranch in the chest at about 12:12 p.m.

LaBranch was transported to River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace, where he was pronounced dead. Adams fled the scene on foot before deputies arrived. The Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from State Police and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, spent most of Sunday and Monday searching for Adams before he turned himself in. LaBranch’s killing is the second homicide of the year in St. John Parish and the third murder to occur in the last 35 days.

On Jan 14, 23-year-old Kevin Ferrygood was gunned down at the intersection of South Fig and Daisy Streets in Garyville. Authorities arrested Craig Lee Jr., 23, of Reserve and Devonte Johnson, 18, of LaPlace, who were both considered “persons of interest” in the shooting.

The pair has been arrested on other crimes, but neither has been charged in the murder.

On Dec. 18, Garland Randall, 36, of LaPlace was shot in the chest while he sat in a car near the intersection of River Road and Earl Baloney Street in Garyville. Authorities arrested Chester Reese IV of Lutcher on second-degree murder charges and David Sharlow Jr. and Willis Anderson, both of LaPlace, on principal to second-degree murder charges.

Jones said Tuesday that the sudden spike in seemingly random violence is frustrating to him and the deputies and detectives that work the incidents. He said he has tried to work with various religious leaders and other officials in the parish to come to a solution, but he is not seeing the results.

“We look at the stats, and we see that so much of the crime is being committed by black males between the ages of 17 and 30,” Jones said. “What do we do to reach them? Most of them don’t have jobs, have little education and little family involvement. We continue to do what we can to bring those responsible to justice, but the cycle of violence has to stop.”

A group of concerned residents gathered Monday at the Tirzah Mentor Group center in LaPlace in what is becoming a regular prayer vigil in an effort to stop the violence. Those involved say they are tired of seeing people they know get shot and killed for no reason.

“It has gotten much worse over the years, and we feel that we need to get something going to turn some of these kids’ lives around,” said Raman Anderson, a local rapper who goes by the stage name Lil Razor. “It was never like this in the past. Some of these kids don’t understand the value of life and what it means to live a life free from crime. I’ve been to jail. I know what it is like, and I know how to learn from mistakes. I want to do what I can to help these young men learn.”

Anderson said he is trying to organize a crime rally in the parish that will stem from the group’s regular Monday vigil.

“We have to come up with a solution to this,” he said.